Saturday, January 24, 2015

Currency Adjustments (The Collapse of the Euro)

Switzerland gave no notice when it stopped supporting the Euro. People were surprised that the message wasn’t telegraphed like the Federal Reserve does. Think about it for one moment. Why give any advanced notice? England in 1967 denied that it would devalue the Pound up to the minute it did it. We went off the gold standard in the blink of an eye. When it comes to currency, countries are ruthless.

Right now, we probably have several European countries printing the first of their new currency. A new currency could take from about 3 to 8 months to produce before any announcement is made. Notice one thing, this all has to happen under extreme secrecy. It will be a sudden and swift conversion from one currency to another. Figure a three day weekend with a holiday sandwiched in so the currency can be distributed to the banks.

Europe is going off of the Euro. It is a little like a divorce. Each side thinks their significate other has no idea of what is about to happen. The trouble is, the shoe doesn’t fit any better for you than it does for her. I would hazard a guess that the following countries are now printing a new currencies; Spain, Portugal, Italy, and France. This is all about the failure of Euro.

Travel on to oil related problems, and any country that has an economy supported by oil at $90 a barrel will soon repudiate its debts and issue a new currency. Of course the basket cases like Venezuela, Greece, or Nigeria, are more likely to witness a regime change first and a new currency second. In this case you lose your life savings.

What we will be facing is the rise of dictatorships where one individual can get things done; replacing a Democracy smothered in bureaucracy. Adolf Hitler’s rise to power wasn't so surprising, Germany of the 1930's was today’s Greece, smothered in debt.

The European commonwealth is going to buy back over a trillion Euros as a Quantitative Easing package. They looked at what the Fed did in the US and it appears to have worked. The trouble is, the effect was cosmetic. It moved future demand into present demand. Politicians that manipulate the financial system too much, will end up losing the confidence and support of their citizens.

At some point in the future, gold silver and platinum will have to be a part of any world monetary system. The present system is a political solution to a financial problem. Increasing the amount of currency that a government can print to pay the bills, over time loses all perspective. You end up paying more for less. Savings is defined as the option to consume later what you produced today. Printed dollars are the product of zero production, but they spend just as well as those that were earned and saved.

Look for France to exit out of the Euro in the coming year, followed by Greece, Spain and Portugal. The reason I picked France to be first, is that there used to be a saying that the French devalued the French Franc every time they changed their underwear. Let's give them an excuse to change their underwear.


Monday, January 19, 2015

They Have Tiped Over The Apple Cart

The financial fiber of the world economy got a jolt when Switzerland announced that they would no longer peg the Swiss franc to the Euro. They had been buying Euros to support the parity by printing Swiss francs. The volume of money involved forward into the future was a blank check and they didn’t like the concept. They already owned 480 billion Euros that they didn't even need. I have often stated that the Euro will die, only for one reason, the politicians cannot print Euros. Guess what, they are about to print Euros over someone’s dead body and it doesn’t look pretty. Gone is the Swiss backing of the Euro. Everyone wants to hold Swiss francs, but spend Euros. Bad money always chases good money out of circulation.

The low interest rates around the world are beginning to take a toll. Very low rates tend to accelerate the miss allocation of resources to nonproductive ends. Normally, interest rates play a big part in whether a project will get built or not. Very low interest rates force the flow of cash to investments that pay a higher return. So if the banks are paying 1 1/2 interest and the stock market returns 12% guess where money is going? The current chicken coming home to roost is oil exploration investments. Canadian tar sands which has the consistency of very thick molasses (after heating) can be pumped through a pipeline if someone thinks that it is a good buy at $100 a barrel. Whoever financed the tar sands project is probably standing at a freeway exit holding a cardboard sign saying, "Will work for food."

Some people are claiming that the economy is out of the woods now because there isn't the hint of a recession. I’d like to point out to them that a recession and a depression are two different animals. We are in a full blown depression and have been since 2006. A recession is an economic statistical calculation. In a depression, you have terms like Quantitative easing, high unemployment, ZIRP, high enrollment in government programs like food stamps, and extreme government waste (economic stimulation) trying to find solutions like Solyndra. We can't stop printing dollars and we don't dare let interest rates set their own level (if we expect to pay the interest on what we printed).

The real trouble right now is the trust of government, and I suggest that it is misplaced. Fanny and Freddie have resumed writing 3% down low interest, home loans. The house is way overpriced, but this will make it easier for minorities to purchase a home. Common sense suggests that if these homes were such good deals, there wouldn't be any left. Isn’t this what started the housing mess?

The government ZIRP (zero interest rate policy) stimulates borrowing and encourages people to take on more debt and consume product. Couple that with Quantitative Easing (printing money) and this is what the world is dealing with. We used to put money in the bank and talk about compound interest being the 8th wonder of the world. Now it’s all about consumption and seeing how many dollars you get back on your credit card purchases. You don't have to wait and save up to purchase what you want, you can have it now. Kind of makes you wonder, isn't this what bubbles are made of?????

Switzerland just tipped over the apple cart by saying “no” to printing more francs and the funny thing is that nobody is quite sure what will happen next. The sanctity of the Euro has been challenged by the oldest successful banking country in the world.


As a post note:

In Switzerland
Step one: Foreign depositors face a 7 ½ percent tax on Swiss bank deposits
Step two: Swiss Franc unpegged from the Euro 1/15/2015

In Denmark
Step one: Foreign depositors now face a 2 percent tax on Danish bank deposits 1/19/2015
Step two: Hmmmm

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Congressional Idiots

I had a day off from work the other day and decided to listen to a live session of the House of Representatives. The discussions revolved around taxing the rich and stemming the flight of corporations to foreign shores.

The Democrats normally pull out an example of some corporate CEO making millions while his workers make very little. You never see this “rich“ (high income earner) person being a basketball or football player who makes millions but pays very little in taxes. It is always the rich against the middle class. Did you ever notice the difference between the two? The rich don’t have to work and if you don’t work, you pay no taxes. In the process of getting rich, you pay taxes. Once you make it, you have no more taxes to pay. Middle class people have taxes to pay and if you have enough deductions to escape taxes, you’ll be classified as poor. From a basic point of view, the rich and the poor pay no taxes and the middle class is stuck with the bill. So we get a two hour Congressional litany on why Congress should tax the rich, great vote getter, rah rah, rah.

Congress also wants to stem the flow of companies moving offshore. Have you ever asked yourself the question, why all of the new startup companies, start in a garage? Answer: the government cannot control what you do in your garage. Want to start a business? The paperwork is ridiculous, not to mention the extra money needed to satisfy all of the state laws that needed to be observed. Before you even open, you have to open up accounts with the state for unemployment insurance, workman’s comp, Social security, employer tax ID and so on. They will send you forms 4 times a year that threaten you with fines if filled out wrong or sent in late. I can guarantee that you will not even comprehend how to fill out the forms unless you are a lawyer. And if you become a success, the lawyers will feed on your company as if it was dead carrion. No wonder manufacturing has moved to a safer less restricted havens.

You really don’t have to think too hard to realize that Congress has dug itself in a deep hole and hopes passing a few new laws will somehow change things back to the ways they were. Their approach is a little like walking down the stairs with both shoes untied. They know where they are going, but its going to be a little different this time.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The New Year Approaches

To the average person on the street, the economy is OK. Not great, but OK. So when we carry that concept further, there is nothing to fix because nothing is broken. If we were to ask if the economy is in need of being fixed, we would get the expected 3-5% lead pipe cinch return of yes. The thing to remember here is that these five percent opinions have more than two solutions to “fix” the problems.

At this point, 95 percent of the population has no idea that there are economic problems. Everything worked yesterday and everything works today. So if there is a problem, it is pretty much invisible. Remember economics is not a course that many study. Government debt and inflation are things we have always lived with in our life time.

We have a national debt of 18 trillion and a collective mentality that this is something that Congress can fix every year. The same with Social Security and any other financial problems, the solutions for all have been pushed into the future.

Do you get the idea that the average person is more into sports twitter and Facebook? Reality is where your mind meets the road. There are no pressing world financial problems as far as the average man is concerned. Providing for, and feeding your family are the goals for the present. Infrastructure, retirement, government finances will all be taken care of; if they aren’t we will elect someone else. The mindset of the 95 percent of the population is very simplistic, it works, and will keep working.

How can the concept of nation debt out of control be explained, or where the money went that was in the Social Security fund? These problems project no immediate peril to the Hoi Polloi, they are of little concern.

The basic concept of public officials is to push all of the pending problems past their time in office. So here we go with the coming New Year. Forget the canaries in coal mines, the deck chairs on the Titanic, people are tired of the stories and no longer pay attention to them. A while ago, the Vice President, referred to the last six years as “The greatest recession since the Great Depression.” All I can say to Obama and Biden, the horse ride is not over, there are still two more years for them in the saddle. And they are definitely not out of the woods, they’re part of the woods.

The coming year could be very telling. With the drop in oil prices, the Middle East will have to choose between guns and butter, and by the way, you can’t grow much food in a fox hole. Russia’s currency could hyper inflate to nothing, they don’t produce much for consumer consumption (if it explodes, it's not editable). The EU as a currency for the European Union could end, Greece and Spain want out. Look for our stock market to hit 26,000. It’s the last game in town. We are all going to get rich.

Belly up to the bar, our government will fix what ails you. I’m not sure how we will pay for all of this, but we know it will involve Republicans; they still have a few dollars left.

So with the year at an end, a toast to the incoming year; here’s wishing everyone a Happy New Year.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Inflation coupled with deflation

It seems very unlikely to have both Inflation and deflation at the same time, but we have it. Health care costs are skyrocketing and gasoline prices are dropping.

The big items are not even being mentioned. The bond market is at an all-time high. If interest rates were to rise 600 basis points to about 8 percent, the bond market if marked to market would suffer a 75% loss. The bond market is at a top, it can go no higher from here, it can only go down. The California housing market is still unaffordable to the middle class unless both husband and wife work. This too could face a 50 percent cut in value, home values do not support the current rental rates so why own a home, rent.

Interest rates are low, so why save your money for later? Spend it now while it will still buy something and borrow some more or put it on plastic. Stocks are going up, and who cares if its selling for 200 times earnings, buy it and hold on for profits. It doesn’t matter what it’s worth, if it’s going up. For some reason, the housing fiasco seems to come to mind. Buy Apple at $1000 and sell it when it hits $1100 or borrow more and double your bet. The interest on the loan is peanuts compared to the rise in stock values.

The government is printing money, which is inflationary. The job market is not quite as it appears, people are returning to work, but most new jobs are a lot lower paying; less earnings is deflationary. Of course if you don’t have a job, no money is very deflationary.

Social Security retirement paychecks are inflationary. The government already spent the money paid into the program for other things, now they have to print dollars to cover the plan. Food stamps are a similar animal.

Once your unemployment runs out, you can go back to school on a student loan. Your own family might not have the ability to loan you money for school, but the government has a ready and willing check book. Sell your soul to the company store for a 4 year edu-vacation.

The one thing that is very easy to understand about the economy, is that it is not in a composed settled state, it is in a state of turmoil, a dynamic state of flux, twisting in different directions. Our bond market which is 10 times bigger than the stock market is not an area to park money for investment purposes. Interest rates are at zero. Investment funds are now dealing in indexes which are a step removed from the stock market. They don’t have to buy and sell stocks, just hold the index. The stocks on the stock market are real, the index options are a synthetic creature. There is a finite value of stocks to be purchased, but there are an infinite number of index options that can be sold on the stocks traded.

The real question, how long can the consumer be the driving force for our economy? Sooner or later people will either run out of items they deem necessary to buy or run out of funds to buy them with. At that point we begin to see deflation. Exhaustion of consumption from a lack of funds or credit. In 1929 it was different, there were no credit cards. In today’s world, let the good times roll, put it on plastic.

The present conflict is a war pitting inflation against deflation. We have a very good shot at the hyperinflation Germany experienced before WWII. They had everything with no deflation. Inflation won out, the Mark's value went to zero the hard way, a beer in the end cost 4 billion marks. Of course if you were a senior citizen who manage to save a million marks, that turned worthless as far a buying power went. From there, it wasn’t hard for Adolf Hitler to rise to power, he was going to change things and help those who had been screwed out of their life savings by a democracy that listened to no one, had all the answers and spent what they didn’t have.

The thing that needs to be pointed out is that there are contradictive things in motion. We just had a 400 point move in the stock market. And bonds are at a rate so low, you wouldn’t loan money to a relative. Does there seem to be something wrong with the way we value risk? Buy a stock it will go higher. As for bonds, compound interest used to be the 8th wonder of the world, now all investors do, is wonder who's buying them?

As long as the stock market goes up we are going to make money. That seems a bit artificial to me, an "investor" can make just as much money on a fast falling market as they can on a market going up. If you examine it, a majority of the players only play the up side. I once asked my broker why? And he said that it was easier to sell a market going up than a market going down. The human mind is geared for appreciation, not the negativity it takes to short a market.

So here we are with, an elf like looking, Janet Yellen posturing how great the economy is. She has a cute cherubic look that could sell just about anything. It's Christmas and everyone wants the good times to return. One or two weeks of holiday cheer should fit the bill.

Merry Christmas everyone, and God Bless.


Friday, November 28, 2014

Numbnuts Our Emperor

Six years ago the President had full control of the Congress and passed Obamacare and never got around to the immigration issue.

We got affordable healthcare for everyone, so I am told. You go down and sign up and pay your premiums and you have health care for you and your family. How’s it work? Not sure. Would you stand in line for a free hotdog and a coke or would you stand in line to pay $10 for the same hot dog and coke? We can deduce that there are two lines, and the free line is the long one.

The passing of Obamacare, was done in Congress with the idea that Obama did not need Republican support to get it passed. It was done in a manner that was like sticking a branch into a wasps nest. He knew before the fact, that there would be harsh consequences. Afterwards, nothing constructive has come out of Congress. Then Obama got reelected and things deteriorated even further. Now as the chief executive in charge of enforcing the laws, he has chosen how to enforce them and I might add rather selectively

The newest executive order is his attempt to fix the illegal alien problem in the US. He wants to help these hard working people that snuck into our country with the right to stay here legally. Our hospitals and schools are flooded with illegals and their kids. Their kids get a better life at the expense of our kids who learn how to be tough enough to keep what’s theirs. There is no additional money allocated by Congress to support this influx of refugees.

Our institutions have fixed budgets that cannot accommodate the extra people. It’s a little like the VA hospitals. The budget was drawn up during peace time and was expected to keep up with a war time casualty rate with no additional funding. The indignation of the Congress and the President over the treatment of our veterans by the VA was laughable. It reminds me of Claude Rains in the movie Casablanca, the cop was given his winnings when he walks into the casino, and remarks “I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!” The average citizen has no concept of how the VA or any organization gets their funding. Each organization submits a budget a year or two in advance and it either gets approved or sliced down a bit. The average time to get a street light installed on a heavily traveled intersection takes about 5 years; and 4 of that are to get the funds to pay for it.

Numbnuts has poisoned the well with his latest executive order, weeks before the newly elected Congress has been installed in office. My only question is why? The Republicans are not hard asses, I believe they were ready to formulate an immigration bill that wouldn’t have given away the store. Even if they weren’t, this sets the tone that their vote one way or the other wouldn’t matter. This, “My way or the highway” looks like the country may be facing another government shutdown.

Will this executive order on immigration be received with great celebration? Step up, sign in and be deported when the next president gets elected. Survival has more to do with being invisible with the forces at hand. Why bother to register? They already get free medical, schooling for their kids and don’t have to pay taxes. Who's supposed to to deport them if Obama won't?

What needs to be understood, is that usually a law has a penalty to punish violators. The penalty is the deterrent. We have removed the penalty for illegal immigration. I wonder, do you get bus fare to anywhere in the USA after crossing the border now; “I have a wife and kids in Bangor Maine.” If you're a border guard, what are your new duties?-- voter registration, border-greeter and maybe bus ticket agent? If there is no penalty for violating a law, what justifies its existence? HMMMMM

IMHO the President needs some comeuppance. We are not ready for his arrogant way to selectively enforce the laws of the land. Congress has not been offered a real choice of what to do unless they agree with his plan. Somebody said it well, the other day, “How can he expect to have an agreement on nuclear arms with Iran when he can’t even get an immigration bill out of the Congress?” His arrogance has turned many in Congress against him. His condescending lectures of what is wrong with America sets the wrong tone. No amount of his jawboning will push the economy into prosperity. Congress still holds the purse strings. Come January, he’s going to know what it’s like to be in line, in Wal-Mart with a full cart and a food stamp card, with zero dollars on it. And we know damn well, there is no Humble Pie in his shopping cart. Could be the fight of the Century--the economy country will be the sure loser.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Government Subsidized Health Care Costs Vs Health Insurance

Many people interviewed on TV talk about the fact that they cannot afford their health insurance. What needs to be realized, is that these people are beyond health insurance, they can’t afford to pay for treatments they already need. Insurance is a concept of paying in small amounts for services you will need later and be able to pay for them fully over time.

Obamacare works if everyone is taxed for health care and pays into the system. The trouble is, that is not the way it is functioning. If you make no money as far as the Federal government is concerned, you avoid the tax all together. If your income changes, your health insurance costs change. Most people between the ages of 18 and 40 really don’t need health insurance (i.e. the most they would normally pay for health care treatment, is probably half of what their health insurance premiums would be). Figure average premium at about $300 per month extended out for about $3,600. Women look at this a tad different with child delivery. Why should a baby delivery cost 10K? -- ask a lawyer.

With Obamacare, many people presently cannot pay their medical bills and maintain their accustomed standard of living. These people want the program. Then there are those that have a pretty good idea that they need insurance, those over the age of 50 to the age of 65. Then we have those covered by an employer work sponsored program, where the employee pays part the employer pays the rest. In reality, the employee pays it all. What we have in the middle are a lot of people in the 18 to 50 age group that have no insurance at all or are employer insured. They really won't consume health care services, they are healthy.

Most people don’t buy car insurance because they need it, they buy it as a condition of the bank loan that they have made with their lender. Many buy it to comply with the law, but in some areas of Los Angles, half the people are driving without insurance. I’ve driven 30 years without an accident until last year and it was only a $1,500 fender bender that wasn’t even my fault. Over that same time, I spent probably close to $25,000 in auto insurance. On the other hand, I knew a person who had no auto insurance that had her car stolen, $12,000 went poof. If that’s all that happens to her in 30 years, she’ll be $13,000 ahead of me in the amount paid out.

The new health insurance is invisible to the 18 to 50 crowd. There are people in this group that are always cited by Obama as examples of those who need health insurance, like kids and single mom's. Give it a moment of thought, this group of people already know the cost of what they need and it falls outside of the realm of what they can afford or want to pay. Obama’s health insurance goes a long way to cover it by forcing the healthy to contribute to a plan they really do not need. The trouble is, the healthy are not waiting in line to sign up for it especially when the deductible is about $5,000.

The number of new cash paying customers that have opted to enroll in plan is the real issue. Did the numbers go up? I think not. There is still a tremendous number of people not enrolled in Obamacare. Open enrollment is for the people who have gotten really sick after the last open enrollment closed.

If you are young, without insurance, Urgent Care is where you go, show them a credit card and you might wait 15 minutes. Plus you know the total cost right then and there.

I'm sure that after winning a Nobel peace prize Obama believes that only he, knows what's best for our country, kind of makes you wonder who is in charge of those awards. Another Nobel prize winner was the doctor that perfected the ice pick lobotomy---I'd imagine that's the quickest way to turn a Republican into a Democrat, short of taxing them to death, and it's probably a covered procedure under Obamacare. Has anyone asked how much the "free" part of Obamacare is costing? Of course not, the government is paying for it- whoever that is.


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Big Squeeze

The government is telling us we are on the road to recovery. Rolls of toilet paper are now one inch narrower, the half-gallon of ice cream is now 56 ounces but the container takes up just as much space. If you have an inside seat on an airline, the people in the other two seats have to get up and out of their seats for you to use the rest room—the concept of personal space is not even considered when calculating the seating capacity of an airline. Forget the bathroom if the drink cart is rolling.

You’d think that the government couldn’t fiddle with a gallon of gas, but they have. They have added alcohol to it and make you pay more for it and you get less miles per gallon. Buy and electric car, electricity is free (or so its implied). Try heating a home with electricity if you want a heating bill you'll never forget.

Out on the West coast here, we are in a drought and the 100 year old water lines are bursting everywhere; replacing them might be a good start in fixing the problem, but no, we need a high speed rail system from LA to San Francisco. The irritating thing, as we consume less water, our rates go up. The utilities have fixed costs. Kind of makes you wonder if everyone got solar panels, do you get a free ride on the infrastructure? It’s a little like paving your driveway to the street and expecting to use the highways for free.

Obama announces a new leaf to be turned over at the VA. He mentioned that they need to hire 28,000 medical people in the next two years to fill the gaps to better serve our veterans. If you understand government funding, their budget for next year is set in stone, the money is there for what was proposed before the discovery of shortcomings. The money may never be there to hire the 28,000. From my own experience 45 years ago, I got out of the Army in 1968 and was told I had a year to go to a dentist and get any dental work I needed done. 10 months later I showed up for a dental appointment and was examined at the VA hospital in Syracuse NY. I was told any work I needed done, wasn’t covered because it happened after I was discharged. I asked for a petition to contest their decision. What makes that incident specifically embedded in my mind, was that they found one form, and it was under the break room coffee pot. I filled it out coffee stain and all. The VA’s return letter advised me to pick a dentist and they would pay the bill.

What the reader does not realize is the 6 percent rule is in play. Out of 100 people only 6 will complain. To show you how it works, take photo processing 20 years ago. It cost $1,000 in chemicals to process 1,000 rolls of film. If instead of throwing the chemicals out and using new chemicals for the next 1,000 rolls, they used the same chemicals for the second thousand, cutting their costs in half. Only about 6 percent of the second thousand demanded reprints because of bad quality (and you thought you took bad pictures).

The President and Congress can get up and investigate and brow beat any part of the government organization. Notice that neither one of them has a wheel barrow full of money ready to address or solve any of the issues. Funding can take from two to five years. And if you need 28,000 people, guess what you get, 5,000. So is the VA problem going away?-- not really, unless you consider downsizing the military considerably, and that is already underway—a short hop for many from Afghanistan to the unemployment line.

Obama points to the fear of deflation, when in fact we have had inflation. Our organization has been told to cut our budget by 20 percent. Just think, if we had had 20 percent deflation, we might not have had to cut our budget and let so many employees go. The choice for a government organization trying to meet a budget, is to reduce employees. The choice for business in the private sector, is to downsize, increase productivity and then do layoffs. If you have a job, you want to keep it at all costs. Good workers are now losing their jobs through no fault of their own. Normally when you quit, you give two weeks’ notice and get a little fare well party that no one wants to go to. Forget the party, you last work day could be sooner than you ever imagined.

America is downsizing and the government has no clue that they caused it. The squeeze is on. Every home in our neighborhood has three cars in the driveway and a three car garage that is packed to the top with whatever. There were so many cars parked along our street this year that they had to put up signs designating Thursday’s as street sweeping day in order to clear it to clean it. And that almost sounds like the start of a Paul Bunyan yarn.

Of course I digress, but examine what you hear from Obama and the government. Their response to our problems is rather distant; it’s kind of like Obama ordering ready-mix concrete in Los Angeles for Washington DC delivery, you’ll get the product—it’s just not in the form you had in mind. If everything is as great as it was in 2006, would it be necessary to remind everyone that things are going just great today?

Yesterday, I went down to PEP Boys to redeem a $15 dollar gift card and decided to buy a case of motor oil. To my surprise, $15 won’t even buy 4 quarts. So I bought 4. I’m spending more and consuming less without a conscious effort to do so. When I was a young one, I could work one hour for two dollars and buy 4 packs of smokes and get a nickel back; a pack of smokes today is almost one hours wages.

Obama and the Democrats are going to save us from deflation, God bless them. My only question, "Is the cure worse than the disease?”

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Ebola the Halloween Scare

In Africa, Ebola is killing hundreds of people per week. Most of the people dying travel short distances to buy groceries, and if they are sick, they might not walk at all. There might be a high level of interaction between other people because many families are living very close together and that allows the disease spread more easily. But in Africa, long distance travel is not the norm.

We have had one person with Embola get into the US and the first thing that happen was that he got sent home from the emergency ward with some medications. Why?? Because he had no health insurance. Note though, he was seen by a doctor, the ER process works, but without insurance, he would have been competing for a hospital bed with someone sicker or in worse shape that could pay.

Now let’s look at reality in this country. We don’t just live and operate in a 5 mile area like in Africa. We have had one person successfully gain entrance to the country with Ebola. One of the two infected nurses that treated him, made a trip to Detroit and back to Dallas. One person that handled embola blood samples is even on a cruise trip in the Caribbean. Common sense suggests that to control a disease of this magnitude, is very easy when, most people don’t have the ability to move great distances. Once they have mobility, everyone has the potential for exposure.

If we were to eliminate flights to Africa, many suggest that it would stop nothing. I argue that it would slow them down. It could take a person 10 to 15 days to make it to an airport where they could have access to regular means of travel. So in most cases, the disease would be spotted before it went further. That is pretty much the case with immigration from Mexico, it takes about a month to get from Panama to the border into the US, and so there would not be much of a worry about Ebola infections.

The real problem that is severely understated is the fact that in the United States, we have high mobility. Do we have the resources to control several outbreaks? When you come to the realization that the resources are not there, then you understand why the battle has to be fought in Africa. We have to fix the problem there first, or we are at risk at home on a higher level. It won’t spread from village to village in this country, but rather hop city to city, like San Francisco to New York.

Our country’s emergency rooms are closing in droves, they can’t pay their bills. We even had one ER unit that was forced to stay open and was going broke slowly. All it took was for one person to die in their waiting room and the government shut them down for gross incompetence; “Please Brer Bear, don’t throw me in the briar patch.” They were not allowed to go out of business, because they served the public, but incompetence set them free. Go figure!

At the Pentagon the other day, someone threw-up in the parking lot and they called for a hazmat team. So examine our first responders. Their first question is “Do you have insurance?” Their second question is “Have you been to Africa or Dallas in the last 3 weeks?” At that point, the health care provider might be asking themselves, “Shouldn’t I be wearing some protective clothing?”

Ebola in the United States has only hit three visibly traceable people. What happens if it was to infect part of our invisible economy, a drug addict or hooker? A 6 to 8 hour wait, in an emergency waiting room, kind of turns ER into an incubation Day Care Center for Embola. What if the person arrives to ER unconscious? I guess if you are having a heart attack you don’t have to wait 8 hrs, but everyone else does. After one exhausting 6 hour visit there 30 years ago, my next visit was to Urgent Care. I showed them a credit card and saw a doctor in 5 minutes.

In this country, we have a war on who is entitled to health care and how will it be paid for. The government pays pitifully little for uninsured ER procedures, reducing the hospitals to steal from their insurance paying customers. Our government is great at appointing people to oversee a problem and issuing directives, but short on funds to really implement any sort of action.

The real worry could be a country like India with a very concentrated population, with many very affluent people traveling to or living abroad in other countries.

Ebola could change our way of life. If you think you have it, you can go sit with a bunch of others in ER for 6 hours who have some sort of stomach flu. The hospital’s employee dress code with people in orange space suits might make you wonder a bit, but then you’d realize that it’s kind of hard to throw up wearing one of those suits, so it wouldn't do you much good to be wearing one. Of course, ABC reports that the Dallas hospital that had the first case now resembles a ghost town. It’s kind of vacant. The good news, there is no wait time at that emergency room, just come on down.

Thousands die in Africa every week and one of them made it stateside. Presently three schools are closed in Cleveland and a commercial airplane has been taken out of service, so they can be decontaminated. ABC reported that “There are four hospitals with bio containment facilities in the United States, and they have 11 beds that can be used at any one time for Ebola patients,”--- and four of them are in use.

An orange hazmat suit, looks like the ideal Halloween costume, the color fits as does the symbolism it represents. 8 billion people in the world and Embola could kill 5.7 billion of them if we drag our feet on this. Congress with it's excessive hubris, won't do much, its an election year and an incubation period of 21 days is too short an interval to have a public opinion on. I’m just hoping the disease is more partial to Democrats who are for everything.

Remember one thing, the problem will go away if we do nothing. And when you think about it, oddly that's correct, if we are not around, the problem ceases to exist.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Reality Vs Perception

People protesting in the streets of Turkey demanding that the government do something about ISIS. Ever notice that protestors don’t carry guns and they are all in their 20’s. They really don’t want to fight in a war either, let someone else die for the cause. I guess that’s why we draft people into the military, they don’t want to go voluntarily.

Americans think that people that vote in other countries have Democracy. How does a bottle of purple ink to dip your finger even suggest an aura of Democracy?

Minimum wage, what is it? It is a wage they have to pay per hour for a job that can’t be done in a foreign country. Hamburger flipper comes to mind. How many more do we need? The US could become more like Spain, where laborers are private contractors. As an independent contractor, you would get paid a commission on the number of hamburgers you sold. You would be responsible for Social Security, health care and taxes. There is no minimum wage for contractors. How many hotel rooms can you clean at $10 per room? At $5 per room????

Looking to the wars being fought in the Middle East, where does all the money come from to purchase the explosives, bullets and bombs that are being used? An AK-47 now sells for $2,100, a grenade launcher for $2,000 and grenades for $500; think about it when you fill up your car at a gas station, the money comes from oil. Minimum wage in Syria is probably about 10 cents an hour. So we know who is not buying them; finding an AK-47 would be the equivalent of winning the lottery over there. When you run out of money, you run out of ammunition, and you lose; wars are expensive. When you see many soldiers fire off 20 rounds into the air, you realize the mentality of these warriors—idiots. Bullets are not free.

People all over the world are in to protesting. It is painless and appears to have a semblance of results. What people don’t realize is that organizations like ISIS with a couple of thousand followers can threaten and intimidate millions of people. They could run out of money; logistic concepts are an unknown concept to religious zealots. But don’t fool yourself, these people will kill innocent relatives to impose their will. Your son or daughter is more precious to you than your political beliefs and that is the medium they work within: the fear of loss.

Here in the US, absurdity is being mixed with reality with varying results. With the new diet pills, if you lose too much weight, only take them every other day. After having a hip replacement you can go mountain climbing, more likely, you might want to throw away your aluminum walker. The pill ads for Viagra show a middle age trim couple. Reality is a wife that has put on 40 pounds and thinks he husband should have outgrown sex long ago; don’t get too excited, those 50 pills could take you a half century years to use up— plus the threat of 4 hours of sex might make you appear to be some sort of sex fanatic that needs to be put down. Can you imagine the dialogue at breakfast the next morning? “Honey if you take one more of those pills, we are through.” Of course, your response, “I felt like I was about to have a cerebral hemorrhage”— might make her consider one more encounter.

The reality, we have a bunch of old farts in Congress trying to run our country, times have changed and left them behind, of course, they are the last to realize it.

We need some young leadership that will go into the Middle East and kick some ass. IMHO forget health care, if you can’t pay for it, you don’t need it. This country was not built to provide what you can’t afford to pay for. Spending a million dollars on a premature baby is noble, but that amount of money would pay for a hell of a lot of new infrastructure for water delivery in Los Angeles. Of course the idea that we must choose between a new life and old plumbing is a real tear jerker, but Amerika needs to step up and address the real issues. The premise that we can have it all, is fiction. It's a little like getting married so you can pimp out your wife to your buddies to make the house payment, it works for all the wrong reasons (until the wife catches on). We will pay for this mess, but hey that's a thousand years from now--maybe, maybe not.