Saturday, January 8, 2011

85 degrees today!

Yes it really is 85 degrees!

That is because we are in Puerto Rico. In the Sheraton. (If you ever want to got to Puerto Rico, don't bother with The Sheraton here! The Sheraton is one of my favorite hotels - but not in Puerto Rico!)

We head for the ship today, The Celebrity Summit, I hope it is better than the Sheraton! But it HAS to be!

Well new post when we get back. The Internet is too expensive on board. At least it's free here at the hotel.


Wednesday, January 5, 2011

This is NOT a political post.

I promise that I am not going to attack your favorite politician, whichever side of the aisle he or she is on.

As you know I have a penchant for figures, and today I would like to talk a bit about debt. Not your or my personal debt, but the debts of the Country, Businesses and Bankers.

In 1980 the combined federal and state debt was $2.3 Trillion, in 2007 it had risen to $11.2 Trillion. At 4%, actually slower than the GDP rose. (Gross Domestic Product.)

Government debt rose SLOWER than the other kinds of debt. Household debt - including mortgages rose about twice as fast as the GDP. Business debt rose at about 1 1/2 times as fast as the GDP.

BUT, the real key to our present financial woes lies in the debts of the banks, investment firms, and hedge funds, which grew almost SIX TIMES as fast as the GDP!

These are the nasty types , no, nasty is too nice a word for them, how about Obscene, Foul, Rotten types that have brought us to our present state. For their own ends. Even as the financial panic has scuttled the world's economy, they have been allowed to go on their mean way, unexamined.

We looked away, admiring people who could "earn" $1 million, $10 million, $100 million and even $1 billion or more in a year! What were we thinking? That maybe one day we could earn that?

Even worse, Congress, who is supposed to be working for us and the US, accepted millions from financial speculators, lobbyists and bankers. Bankers ALONE spent $450 million, just on federal election campaigns, just in 2009! Why? Why did they give millions of dollars to our 'elected' officials? Are we stupid? Why do we allow any Congressman, any Senator, or any official to accept ANYTHING from ANYONE?

Incidentally it was not their money that they gave to our fine Congressmen and Senators, in order to manipulate them into doing what the banks wanted, it was our money! Hard earned money that you and I had put into their custody for safekeeping.

In return for these "Donations", the federal government, in it's "Wisdom", dropped limits on interest rates, allowed banks and other financial firms to expand as much as they wanted, without any limit, changed the rules so there was no separation between investment banks (which are risky) and commercial banks, (that are insured by the government) (So that now the government is insuring ANYTHING AT ALL that any bank wants to do. However risky!) they, Congress, also authorized irresponsible derivative trading - gambling - but it also stopped states from prosecuting the gamblers under state law! (These bankers, please don't forget, are gambling with your money! And the government now backs them! How would you like the government to back you when you go to Las Vegas? Or the horse track? You could bet on whatever you wanted with no fear of losing! How great is that? And the banks have it even better, they are not even using their money, they are using YOUR money to bet with!!!)

And now for the Coup-de-Grace, the Federal Reserve Board, and all the other 'regulators', looked the other way while the mortgage industry went phsycopathic, and speculators drove the prices of commodities such as wheat and oil through the roof.

The executives in these big financial firms borrow huge sums of money at almost no interest, invest it in whatever is growing at the time - commodities, real estate, oil etc. collect vast profits for their firm, from which they pay themselves gigantic compensation packages. (They do that even if the firm loses money!) When the bubble bursts, all they have to do is go to the government to bail them out. No worries, as we used to say in the UK.

Neither the Democrats nor the Republicans have the guts to stand up to them (They'd be dumb to do that and kill the golden goose! The payoffs might stop!) With no one to hold them accountable, the executives make a killing - it doesn't matter if his company wins or loses. He wins. Big time - some of these guys make more every year than you could ever dream of making in a lifetime, or in ten lifetimes. And don't forget, it's your money. Sorry, it WAS your money. Yes it was, it came from you, from your work, not their work. They STOLE it from you. They would call it investing, but it's not investing, it's stealing.

They choose a company to "invest" in and then recommend all their 'investors' to put money in to it - having first "Invested' their money (Actually your money) When the price goes up, they sell and take the profit. (They call it profit, I call it stealing) Then they take more 'profit', because before they sold it, after it went up, they had already "sold" it in the future, short selling, or whatever they call it. Because they knew that when they sold, it would go down, so they make even more money because it went down - which they made it do. All with your money!! Do we admire these people? Some might, because they make money. But they don't "make" money, they steal money. Your money. You made the money, by working. The only way money is MADE is by working. When you work and make something, you create something with your work. That something is wealth. The "Investment" people are not making anything, they are simply stealing what you made. You worked and made the money, they took it. Get it?

This use of so many Trillions of dollars on speculating, - read gambling - by these bankers, - read gamblers - is why we are so stressed. For years these bloodsuckers have been taking money from us. If even a part of this money had been used to build schools, roads, water systems, communications, manufacturing, commercial development and environmental protection (My favorite), life for the middle class would be much better, and instead of debt we would have real assets. Like roads, bridges, clean water and land. Instead we have rich bankers - read thieves - and derivative traders who are good for, what? Good for stealing from the people who do the work, that's what they are good for. Oh yes, and for putting $100 million Van Gogh paintings in their boardrooms and homes, living in half a dozen houses spread around the world and flying between them in their corporate jet(S).

This financial system debt was toxic. Billions borrowed to bet on currencies going up or down, same for interest rates and goodness knows what else. Billions of dollars of your money - money that you put into their bank for safekeeping - and they used it for betting if the Swedish Kroner would go down in the next ten minutes! Is that the kind of behaviour that we want to protect? Apparently the US government wants to protect it. But it does none of us any good at all. It only profits the investment bankers. None of it comes back to you and I! None of it does the country any good at all. It simply allows a very select group of people to rob us!

A lot of this debt was made by mergers and acquisitions. What does that mean? It means that big 'investors' buy a business that is profitable, put it in hock, by borrowing huge amounts of money on it's reputation, which they then pay to themselves in the form of huge fees and bonuses. Often they inflate the worth of the business even more by firing half of its employees, making it even more profitable - for a short time - long enough for them to rape it even more. By the time they have finished, a good profitable business, employing hardworking stable employees, is bankrupt. But what do they care? They "invested" money in it. They can put a few more paintings on the wall, buy some more racehorses and a ranch or two to put them on, while you and I have to go out and look for a new job and try to save some more money for the bankers to steal from us.

When you "Invest" in the market, YOU are really gambling, because you are up against people who are manipulating the market. (They aren't gambling, they are onto a pretty sure thing.) For every dollar that the "investment banker" makes, someone else loses a dollar! I don't know if you had thought of that? But when that trader makes 10 million dollars for his company, (And "Earns" himself a multi million dollar bonus at the end of the year.) someone else lost 10 million dollars. Maybe not one person, but perhaps a thousand people lost $10,000 each? Or a million lost $10 each. That 10 million that he "Made", wasn't created out of thin air, it was taken from someone, or any number of someones.

Government debt, where did that come from? Come on, you know, from tax cuts for the rich! Not satisfied with allowing the "investment bankers" to steal from us with impunity, our "protectors" in Congress and the Senate, cut the taxes to the rich! The top 1% of Americans have 26% of it's income. And, they pay only 16% of it in taxes - less than you and I pay! (40 years ago, in 1970 the top 1% of Americans made 8% of the countries total income, and paid 40% of it in taxes, now they make 26% of the countries total income and pay 16% of it in taxes. Do you see a trend here? The income gap in the US is the biggest ever, anywhere, here or anywhere else in the world.)

When I had my first jobs, there people making TWICE as much as I was!! WOW! I aspired to making that much! I couldn't imagine making twice as much as I was! Now these greedy, greedy people make 100 or even 1,000 times as much as I do, or more! There is something wrong here. First there is no way they work 1,000 times as hard as I do! And not only that they don't work at all. They don't do any WORK, producing or making anything. No, they just take. You work, you make things, you produce something. The farmer produces something. They don't produce anything at all. They just take away what you make, for themselves and their rich friends.

Back to government debt. After tax cuts for the rich. The government took on the debts of the financial firms. (After giving them Billions of dollars, to prevent closing companies 'too big to fail". What did the bankers do with that money? They rewarded themselves for 'doing such a good job'- to the tune of $143 Billion dollars in bonuses - just on Wall Street. More than they paid themselves the previous year! $143 Billion dollars of YOUR money. That is YOUR and MY money, GIVEN to those sharks.!) Next, they spend an obscene amount on futile wars, wars that we cannot possibly win. Is that charity for the weapons builders? Not to mention the deaths and injuries to our fighting men and women, which is another huge drain on our resources. The loss of their contribution to our country and the cost of taking care of them.

Talking of health care, how come we spend twice as much as any other country in the entire world on health care, per person, and have worse health than most countries? That is a huge cost that goes into building our debt. One reason for that is we have a for profit health care system. No other country makes a profit on its health care, except as needed to pay for hospitals and health care workers. Half the cost of our drugs is in the cost of advertising them! Nowhere else are drugs advertised on radio, TV and in newspapers and magazines, can you imagine what that adds to the cost of the drugs that you buy? It doubles their cost. Every Doctor has an X-Ray machine, Cat Scan, MRI and whatever else in his basement, so naturally he is going to send you for at least one of these tests, after all he has to pay for those machines! I have to get an MRI of my brain every year, the cost is $1500. In Japan the cost is $93. The same MRI that costs $1500 here is $93 in Japan. The Health Insurance Companies have thousands of people whose only job is to figure out ways to not cover the treatment you need. Japan, Taiwan, Switzerland, the UK, Canada and every other civilized country in the world has a National Health System that covers all of their citizens at HALF the cost of our for profit system! And most of these countries have a healthier population! A better health care system at half the cost! You will of course be told that care is rationed, etc, etc. Not true, if you need care now, you get it now. On the other hand if you need a less pressing or optional treatment you may have to wait. For example, if you break your hip, you go in and have it replaced today. But if you have a painful hip that will need replacing at some time in the future, you will be put on a list and be fitted in when there is a space. If it gets more painful and needs to be done, it will be done. I have lived with this system for my whole life, when I lived in the UK, and now through my parents who still live in the UK. Not a perfect system - but is any system in this world perfect? But they like it in the UK, and so do just about all the other countries that use it, according to a study that I saw on a Maryland Public Television Program. Who wouldn't, it costs HALF of our imperfect system. How is it paid for? Everyone pays a % of their paycheck - just like Soc Sec - say 10% and they are covered. If you get sick you are still covered! If you think 10% is too much, well I paid my own Health Insurance when I worked, it cost $12,000 a year and wasn't all that great. I earned about $50,000 a year - so I paid about 25% of my earnings for health Insurance. I would have been ecstatic to have only paid 10%! If you get health Insurance included with your job it may not seem such a good idea. But if you think about it, you pay it one way or another! If it costs your employer 20% of your salary to cover you, and you could get the same (Or better coverage) for 10% he could afford to raise your salary by 10%! And you would still have health care. How do you like them apples?

It is way past time for Congress and The Senate to restrain themselves from taking the bribes, rebuffing the banks and putting the brakes on the banks and financial institution's speculations. It is ruining us all - they are giving the cheats everything they want, with no restrictions. And what is worse, we are paying for it.

Hello, is there anybody out there?

Good morning, is there anybody out there? I KNOW that there are. My report says that 23 people read my Blog last week, 50 the week before and 46 the previous week. I don't know who they are. I just get the numbers. If I want to go through a whole lot of delving I can get the Sate or the Country that they are from, but not who they are.

I would dearly love to hear some comments. Last week was a banner week, I received 3 comments, one just said "testing". So it occurred to me that some people may not know how to comment. If you click on the 'comments' word at the bottom of the post it will tell you how. I am sure you can do it, if you can't, e-mail me at and we will figure it out together!

It also occurs to me that maybe there is nothing to comment ON! After all, what can one say about a bunch of bird and weather observations, perhaps something more controversial would elicit a comment?

OK, this is your lucky day! I am working on a post that is more controversial, I think. It's not controversial to me, but there are a bunch of my opinions in it. Maybe you could comment on those. It is not political in nature, in other words there is no criticism of one party or one person or another, it is mostly about the system as a whole and how it managed to get us into the financial pickle that we are now in. Because I started it a few days ago, when I post it will appear back on the day that I started work on it. Which was January the 4th. So you will need to page down through 3 or 4 posts to find it. Look for it later today or tomorrow. A certain amount of research is involved, so it takes time to put together.

I look forward to hearing from you. And a Happy New Year.


Another lovely sunrise.

Yes, I was treated to another fabulous Sunrise this morning. Along with a bevy, nay a veritable battery, of beautiful birds. It seems that the few birds that have survived and remain in our horribly polluted environment cannot resist The Lake. They flock here by the dozens. Already today, I have seen a flock of Canada Geese, several Great Blue Herons, (What DO they eat when The Lake is frozen over?), a mess of Seagulls, is that the correct term? and a bunch of LBJ's - that stands for Little Brown Jobs, or in other words Unidentified Flying Birds, or UFB's. I do recognize some of them, the Blue Jays who are loud, bright and very, very busy, the Crows, big and boisterous, and the true LBJ's that look like Sparrows but aren't.

Well time for a second Cup of coffee I think and then to work.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


The Sunrise this morning was spectacular. With all the windows we have in our Home in Paradise it was impossible to miss.

The house is oriented to take advantage of the Sunset - thus Sunset Cottage. But the Sun, although coming up on the 'other' side of the Cottage nevertheless likes to makes its presence known. And it did so today "in spades". As I walked/stumbled through the house just before 7.00am towards my coffee pot, I could see Mr Sun (Mrs?) poking his/her nose through every window in the house. I took the time to get the coffee on, first things first, before going outside onto the deck to fill my senses. Stretching from the North East to the South East was a Sunrise to rival any Sunset, but it didn't end there, no, it continued around the entire 360 degrees, reducing in intensity it is true, as it reached the West, but still a wondrous sight to help open my still blurry eyes.

I stood on the deck for a short while - the temperature was 28 degrees - admiring it. The cause of the exhibition was the light cloud cover. And the fact that the clouds were arranged neatly in rows, so the pink fluffy clouds just went on and on, around and around, completely encircling me in their show. A pageant fit for a King, but enjoyed, I felt, only by me. My own private showing.

How could I ever think such a thing, when it was so public?

Fifteen minutes later, after I had opened the chickens, fed the cats and got the fire going, it was over. That may be one reason it is so special, because it is so short, unlike the sunsets that often last for an hour.

But it wasn't over, not really, not yet. Because although the colors had gone from the sky, the Sun was now high enough to hit the tops of the trees on the other side of The Lake - one of my favorite times of the day - they seemed to explode in fire, igniting as the rays moved over them. Is God a pyromaniac I wondered? The ice on The Lake was clothed in pink. Have you ever seen pink ice? Not like the ice on My Lake you haven't, come over sometime to see it. Let me know you are coming first, and I'll put the coffee on. If you dress warmly enough we can sit on the deck and watch. Close together, for warmth - if you are the right sex and the right person. Unfortunately Julia does not surface early enough to enjoy all this. (So we should be safe!)

There, as Julia would say, "Sex raises it's ugly head again." or as a master at my school once said to me in class, when I was about 14 or 15. "Mind in the rut again, Liddle?"

Well it time to take Julia her morning tea. Bye.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Happy New Year.

I would like to wish all my friends a very Happy New Year. Lets hope that 2011 will be a better year all round for us all.

Especially, I wish for peace everywhere in the world. Is that asking too much?

Moving right along, could we also have good health, happiness and prosperity? Please.

This morning was, as usual on The Lake, another beautiful one. The air was calm, and warm. Very warm! I could not believe it when I looked out and saw a thick mist over The Lake. Then I checked the thermometer - 54 degrees! - at 7.00am. Unbelievable, it has been cold and windy for several weeks it seems. The Lake which has been frozen for weeks too, looked calm and wet. It has not completely thawed of course, just the surface, so there is a thin layer of water on top of the ice, which makes the surface so calm that it is like a mirror. It also rained a little in the night and that added to the water on top of the ice. The mist alternately appears and dissapears, with no apparent reason. There is no wind at all, not even a slight breeze. Mr & Mrs Heron appeared and glided over the silent scene, some ducks were diving for their breakfast around the edges of The Lake which has thawed, and out in the middle is a collection of Gulls apparently standing ON the water! A strange sight indeed.

Well I'm off to get some breakfast and to prepare to visit some dear friends, one at least who is in need of that earlier wish for better Health in the New Year.

If anyone out there is reading my Blog, would you mind leaving a comment? Just to let me know that I am not all alone out here! I try to post a variety of subjects here, although I know that The Lake features heavily. There is also my Fun With Figures Blogs, and even a little bit of Political comment - but I try to keep that to a minimum because unlike Europeans, Americans don't like their man/woman to be critisised at all! Even when he/she is wrong! Even when they KNOW their guy/gal is wrong, any criticism is tantamount to WAR on them personally! Come on folks, get with the program, ALL politicians are, as one good friend (Who I am going to nominate as an Honorary European) likes to say, are "Pileofshitens". A more apt description of AT LEAST 99% of politicians I cannot imagine.

Well, breakfast calls - and don't forget to leave a comment, please, pretty please. XXX