Category: Misc

The Stupidity of Banking Fees

About ten years ago, my savings account basically stopped paying interest. The rate of about two percent fell to something like one-tenth of one percent in 2002. Over the last ten years, people just seemed to forget the way things used to work – banks are supposed to pay you for placing your money into a bank account.

Well, as you may have known, Bank of America has raised an uproar by announcing their intent to charge a $5.00 per month fee for their customers who use debit cards to make purchases. Other banks are expected to follow suit. This uproar has taken the tone of anti-corporate class warfare: the “Bigs” vs. the Common Man; Banks vs. The People – whatever. The furor is missing …


A Sweeping Declaration of Intent: Gingrich unveils new “21st Century Contract with America”

If ever there is going to be a moment for former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich to create momentum and change the flat trajectory of his presidential run—now is the time. One day after the release of a Fox News poll, which surprisingly showed him gaining substantial ground in the race, Gingrich took to the stage at the Principal building in Des Moines to unveil his newly minted “21st Century Contract with America”.

Updated from the 1994 version, this new contract will serve as the backbone of his campaign and its acceptance or rejection will determine his fate one way or the other.

In the world of presidential politics such fate is largely decided by three things—the style, the substance, and …


America is Bankrupt and Being Repossessed

So far in this presidential election cycle I have seen both Gary Johnson and Ron Paul bluntly declare that the most serious problem we faced as a nation was that we are bankrupt. After hearing this comments I started reflecting on the nature and effects of bankruptcy, and if we are actually bankrupt as a nation.

For corporations, bankruptcy is declared when the company cannot pay its debts as they fall due. It doesn’t mean that the company is worthless; in fact, bankrupt companies can have assets valued in the billions of dollars, and these assets don’t simply disappear because a company files for bankruptcy protection. What actually happens is that ownership rights to these assets are shifted from the company to the creditors. In …


The DSM Register Independence Day Weekend “Progressive Trifecta” (2nd of 3)

The Des Moines Register’s Opinion Section on Sunday, July 3, 2011 featured a “Progressives Trifecta” of half-truths and sophistry:

Richard Doak – What if the founders were around today?

Donald Kaul – My favorite 4th of July speech

Dean Baker – Keep Social Security safe from politicians who want to save it

This week I will focus my comments on Donald Kaul’s article sub-titled “Real patriotism requires coming to terms with the grimmer side of American history”.

Donald Kaul – He shares viewpoints about the things he likes and dislikes about the 4th of July.  He likes back yard gatherings but he dislikes patriotic claptrap.  He likes patriotism, defined as acts of citizenship and service, but dislikes speechifying.  He likes the flag itself …


What Would The Founders Think?

This morning I am considering “what ifs”.

My father often jokes that had I been born 5 hours earlier, he would have named me Ulysses instead of Arthur.  That is, I could have been a 4th of July baby with the initials “U.S.”.  I have been forever thankful that my mom stuck it out long enough to prevent that impediment on my life.

Sometimes I daydream about what would have happened in my life if I had been named Ulysses instead of Arthur.  I believe I would have developed a very similar personality, but I suspect (mixing my current personality with the name) that I would have found myself running for public office at some level and leveraging my “U.S.” initials as a brand of …


The DSM Register says “Congress should be considering further economic stimulus”.

The Des Moines Register’s Editorial on Monday, June 27, 2011 was titled “Steep budget cuts now could harm economy”.

Summary – The Register’s Editorial group pointed us once again to the “nonpartisan fiscal agency”, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).   They quoted the CBO’s “dire warning about unsustainable federal deficits”, but cautioned that the report also “warned that steep cuts right now could make the nation’s fiscal condition even worse by kicking the legs out from under the economy”.   Also on June 27th, The Wall Street Journal’s front page led off with an article titled “Debt Hamstrings Recovery”[1].   The WSJ’s Tom Lauricella notes “Around the globe, the inability of governments and households to reduce their debt continues to cast a shadow over …


Still The Gold Standard: Barry Goldwater’s “The Conscience of a Conservative” 50 Years Later

“The Conservative also recognizes that the political power on which order is based is a self-aggrandizing force; that its appetite grows with eating. He knows that the utmost vigilance and care are required to keep political power within its bounds.” – Barry Goldwater

Evidenced by the fact that I recently finished re-reading Barry Goldwater’s The Conscience of a Conservative on a kindle—much has changed since it was first published in 1960. However, by the staggering parallels that its content has to the political realities of 2011, one could say that not much has changed at all.

Anyone who chooses to invest the few hours necessary to read this book will become apprised of the historical context in which the political and ideological battles of our …


Death In The Rearview Mirror

I had a new life experience last week — a brush with death.

I was on my way from school to meet with my son-in-law Jake and friend Brandon at a Starbucks in West Des Moines.  Torrential rain was making visibility a bit difficult, but not impossible.  I wasn’t traveling at a high rate of speed on I-35 south.  Semis were flying by me.  Rain was collecting on low spots of the interstate.  Between Hickman Road and University Avenue in Urbandale, I hit a pool of water, and I started hydroplaning.

I am sure that some people in this reading audience have experienced hydroplaning, but this was a first for me.  The sensation was similar to hitting ice on the highway in the winter.  I …


Coexistence and a Christian Buddha

While living in San Francisco, I was always a little concerned that I may have been in non-compliance with a California State Department of Transportation regulation. It appeared to me that it might have been mandatory to display both a state-issued license plate on the back of my car, along with a “COEXIST” bumper sticker.

The message of COEXIST is, I suppose, interesting in terms of its banal universality. Almost all of us earnestly desire to live peacefully with one another. There is, however, the ever-present and small group of people who would wish the rest of us dead. While I am not at all certain of this, I suppose (at least in theory) the COEXIST bumper stickers could potentially wear on the psyches of …


Finally! Osama bin Laden Dead!

On national television this evening, President Obama informed the public that bin Laden had been killed in a firefight with a small team of America forces who had attacked a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan in an effort to capture the Al Queda leader.  There were no American casualties.

The President’s speech covered just about every aspect of the situation, and reflected on the history of bin Laden and his murderous mayhem on the world.  He also keyed in on an important fact: Al Queda has not been shut down.  There will likely be continued attacks along with targeted reprisals for today’s successful operation.

Although the details are still sketchy, it appears that the terror leader was killed earlier in the day, and presumably verification and …


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