"The principle of spending money to be paid by posterity, under the name of funding, is but swindling futurity on a large scale." --Thomas Jefferson

Tuesday, September 30

I Love You So Much....You Remind Me so much of Myself

I rode to Salt Lake today on the motorcycle and thus had adequate time to process the garbage in my head.

You may have noticed that the politician's signs are coming out, big flashy billboards hover overhead with a gigantic head shot of your favorite local yocal running for office again. Next to gigantic head shot is most likely some form of Donkey or Elephant immediately labeling themselves as a member of a party. Like this tells me everything I need to know about the candidate. So do fun words like "Experience, Leadership, Responsibility." I would like to see someone run an honest campaign and print a sign that said one of three things...."I am in your tax bracket" or "I will make your wildest dreams come true" (Can't take credit for that one), or "Constant Bickering, Politics and Bribery" At least the last one would be an honest ad.

So I gather that everyone in Northern Utah presumably belongs to either a cult of redneck Republicans that follow after their elected leaders as long as they are wearing an elephant-kicking-a-donkey lapel pin and hate democrats OR a throng of democrats who are forward thinking, progressive, intellectuals that are amazed that people dare call themselves republican because of the public embarrassment.

Might sound a little over the top and it might be but please....just because you put a little donkey or elephant on your sign doesn't make me want to vote for you. Get out of your shells people! Look the guy up. Write him an email, take him or her to lunch.

I was able to talk to both Glenn Donnelson and Ryan Wilcox several times before Wilcox won the primaries. I found the exchanges to be very refreshing. Both answered my questions....(little did they know that I couldn't even vote in the primary because I am not a registered Republican!)

Second example.....I now apparently belong to the coolest gang in the world...that's right people I am a biker. I get the little "hand off the handlebar half wave" from my fellow bikers. I'm sure you've seen it. I'm also sure you have secretly longed for the opportunity. Some guys just have their ladies do it! Trust me, I am taking advantage of it! I have made so many new friends! Until I bought a motorcycle, I was just another guy driving to work....now I'm a somebody!! You have to be really careful not to "half wave" to a scooter though-how embarrassing!

So I drew the conclusion that we are all very accepting people.....as long as you aren't different from me. Republican/Democrat, Vespa/Harley...I mean how are we supposed to live together?

Way to Go Thaddeus!

Thank you Roxanne for suggesting this video. Barney Frank got the job how? Nice to see a little passion from the people in our elected congress. Props to Tad! I'd vote for the dude. I like his suit too. Sharp....

Monday, September 29

End of an Era

I'm trying to look for the good today people I promise....

Imagine my surprise when I returned from lunch today to see the Dow Jones Industrial Average down 777 points. Looks like Congress has defected again. They will be out until Thursday celebrating the Jewish Holidays while our economy sinks into oblivion. If I were a Jew, I wouldn't care if someone worked on a holiday if it meant this much to my country. Are we going to start taking personal days now so we can observe Wiccan holidays? I hear Witch Burning days are mid to late October. Nancy Pelosi has a CHUGG nomination for a front row seat to that one. Chick scares me.

We are back to partisan bickering and politics as usual. I thought, naively, that perhaps the country could take front seat over who gets reelected for once. I have tried hard not to just take on someone else's opinion in this matter and think it out for myself. I don't know why just now, members of congress and the house are pointing so many fingers at each other. Give me a break...Barney Frank, Chairman of the Financial Oversight Committee was apparently scarfing down his morning box of Twinkies for the last 10 years while all this mismanagement was happening right under his nose. Maybe his nose was full of cream filling. If we want to fire CEO's who mismanaged major corporations and misled stockholders, let's have equal criticism for members of congress that didn't do their jobs on these committees or were so unbelievably ignorant as to not see this coming. If I were in charge of Golden Parachutes for Congress, I would make sure that Mr. Frank's severance package contained some Twinkies. You can't expect the guy to go cold turkey!

I am a conservative. That is, I believe in accountability, personal responsibility and the idea that government is not the solution to everything. Ronald Reagan once said, "Government is not the solution to the problem, government is the problem."

I understand that we need elected representatives to vote for us on important issues such as these. If there was one bright spot on a very cloudy day, it was that the voice of the American people manifest itself on Capital Hill today. Many more Americans were against a Wall Street bailout than were for it. In the back of my mind, I wanted to see something come forward, presented by both parties in a civilized manner that would help all of our investment accounts and protect the little guy.

Truth be told, I thought that the way the Bush Administration asked for a lobbied congress to pass the bill was wrong and all too familiar. My way or the highway-both Democrats and Republicans. I think President Bush is a well intentioned man in most regards, however I disagree considerably with his ability to lead and manage a situation entirely. If this President is a conservative then Nancy Pelosi is Margaret Thatcher. The man is not a conservative. I thought it was put well when I heard someone say tonight that asking Congress and the Financial Oversight committee to fix this problem was like them burning the Thanksgiving turkey and then asking them to cook Christmas dinner. Republicans have purposed a plan to use the free markets and insurance to help the economy. I think this avenue should be explored. How about an open discussion for an idea from the citizens of the country? We have brilliant minds in this country-not just in Washington D.C. Contrary to their own belief, they are not gods.

If I am honest with myself, I and my family have benefited greatly from the good economic growth and "the way things were" in America. Three years ago, I didn't have $100k to put down on a house. But I live in a great neighborhood now. I think we are seeing the end of an era. Things are probably going to look pretty grim for a while but guess what.....we knew they would didn't we? I mean how long have we been counseled to have food and supplies on hand?

Another bright spot in this whole mess-Wall Street greed and unethical practices are being exposed, brought to the front page and the people are talking about it. And they are mad. Are you reading this? Will you talk about it? Will you tell other people to read and talk about it? Yes. And that is a great thing. I just hope we don't forget as quickly as we did after the tech bubble burst.

It's called the pride cycle and I think I have read about it somewhere ..... where was it?

Another truth be told. We are a resilient people. We will come back from anything. It may take some time but I believe in the goodness and hard work of Americans.

Bottom line...we should not become a communist country. We should not abandon our morals. We should not initiate corporate welfare for Wall Street. We should just do what is best for our country and it's citizens.

One more word of advice...listen to conference this weekend.

Dear Mr. Birkenmeier

I have received this email 5 times now. I have been computing big numbers in my head since the government has been bailing out everyone. Just trying to get a grasp on the scope of it. The first time I read this, I laughed. So I checked the math. Read the email and see what you think.

Hi Pals,
I'm against the $85,000,000,000.00 bailout of AIG. Instead, I'm in favor of giving $85,000,000,000 to America in a We Deserve It Dividend. To make the math simple, let's assume there are 200,000,000 bonafide U.S. Citizens 18+. Our population is about 301,000,000 +/- counting every man, woman and child. So 200,000,000 might be a fair stab at adults 18 and up.. So divide 200 million adults 18+ into $85 billon that equals $425,000.00. My plan is to give $425,000 to every person 18+ as a We Deserve It Dividend.

Of course, it would NOT be tax free. So let's assume a tax rate of 30%. Every individual 18+ has to pay $127,500.00 in taxes. That sends $25,500,000,000 right back to Uncle Sam. But it means that every adult 18+ has $297,500.00 in their pocket. A husband and wife has $595,000.00. What would you do with $297,500.00 to $595,000.00 in your family?
Pay off your mortgage - housing crisis solved. Repay college loans - what a great boost to new grads put away money for college - it'll be there-Save in a bank - create money to loan to entrepreneurs, buy a new car - create jobs, invest in the market - capital drives growth
Pay for your parent's medical insurance - health care improves-Enable Deadbeat Dads to come clean - or else.

Remember this is for every adult U S Citizen 18+ including the folks who lost their jobs at Lehman Brothers and every other company that is cutting back. And of course, for those serving in our Armed Forces. If we're going to do an $85 billion bailout, let's bail out every adult
U S Citizen 18+! As for AIG - liquidate it. Sell off its parts. Let American General go back to being American General. Sell off the real estate. Let the private sector bargain hunters cut it up and clean it up. Here's my rationale. We deserve it and AIG doesn't. Sure it's a crazy idea that can "never work." But can you imagine the Coast-To-Coast Block Party! How do you spell Economic Boom?

I trust my fellow adult Americans to know how to use the $85 Billion We Deserve It Dividend more than I do the geniuses at AIG or in Washington DC. And remember, The Birk plan only really costs $59.5 Billion because $25.5 Billion is returned instantly in taxes to Uncle Sam.
Ahhh...I feel so much better getting that off my chest.
Kindest personal regards,
T. J. Birkenmeier, A Creative Guy & Citizen of the Republic
PS: Feel free to pass this along to your pals as it's either good for a laugh or a tear or a very sobering thought on how to best use $85 Billion!!

Dear Mr. Birkenmeier

May I just begin with how fun it is to say your last name? I understand that the number of zeros at the end of a billion is a lot and you seem like a nice guy that means well. I would however appreciate not getting the American public in a frenzy over math that is fundamentally false. When you begin with a idea, you must get the first number right. You are referring to $85,000,000,000.(Billion) that was used to prop up AIG as a loan. However, in your math you added too many zeros. If you divide $85 Billion by 200,000,000 citizens, you get $425 not $425,000. I think this is a big deal. You see you were using $85,000,000,000,000 (Trillion). Kind of embarrassing! This is almost 10 times the national sovereign debt. Perhaps before sending out a thrilling email next time, you could try the division one extra time. What scares me is there is probably a congressman who got this email and now it's half way to becoming law.

A concerned citizen of the republic and owner of a Windows calculator
Kirk :)

Bailout Basics

With the very real chance of a financial meltdown, the Congress has now sent a bailout bill to the House to vote on. I ask myself if the average Joe American has any idea what this bailout actually is supposed to do and what the ramifications are if it doesn't work. I thought I would lay it out as simple as possible.

"Capital Markets"-There is a constant need for credit in our economy. Big companies and corporations need capital to do business and often float credit to meet expenses. For example-Say GM needs to borrow $20 Million to buy steel to manufacture cars. In the current financial state, no one is willing to lend money because they need those reserves for their own companies and are worried about lending to a company that's already in trouble. If GM can't get the capital required, it has to cut costs somewhere else. You guessed it, probably jobs. This is how quickly the matter could escalate. When large American companies start laying off employees then that affects every aspect of the economy in a negative way.

"Credit Crunch"-This refers to the unwillingness of banks and other financial institutions to loan money to each other. Banks loan to each other on the overnight market at the LIBOR rates. These rates have decreased to because no one is lending to each other. Banks are fearful of their solvency because of their bad loans and their customers "making a run on the bank" because they are fearful that their bank is one in trouble financially. Thus, they hold on to any of the reserves they can. It was reported today that there is over $5 Trillion in capital available in treasury notes and other assets that could flood the markets. The purpose of the $700 Billion bailout that Congress is negotiating is intended to alleviate fears and concern about lending and will thus free up these trillions that are out there. If this doesn't happen, the bailout will fail. The $700 Billion is not intended to rescue the entire economy by buying all the bad assets. It is mainly an emotional trigger that the government is now hoping will make a difference in overnight lending.

"Sub-Prime and lax lending practices"-Foreclosing on your home seems to be something that someone with a good steady job will never have to worry about. Back in the 1990's under the Clinton administration, many lending practices were altered and underwriting requirements were made much more liberal citing "affirmative action" in the lending arena. Banks agreed because they were often only agents in the deal. You sign the mortgage and within a few days, they had packaged and sold the majority of these mortgages as securities to investment banks and other investors. They didn't care if the underwriting was bad. They only have to risk their own money for a few days. So as long as you make your first payment, the bank if off the hook and has made a handsome profit on the origination and sale of the loan.

"Predatory Lending/Borrowing"-I am sure you've seen houses on the hill and wondered how that person affords that mortgage. In the past, you had to have some money down to buy a house. The down payment was your way of showing the bank that you were serious enough about the house purchase and the ensuing payments that you were willing to put up thousands of your own money to back that up. As of lately, you have been able to get 100-125% financing on your home with no down payment. In addition to this, you have been introduced to a mortgage called the Option ARM that allows you to pay a 30 year payment, an interest only payment or a minimum payment. The minimum payment is also called a negative amortization payment. Your monthly mortgage payment does not even cover the interest on the loan. So if you choose to pay the minimum payment, you are actually increasing the mortgage balance every month. This worked for some people when the property values were going up. It also enabled the bank to sell a mortgage considerably higher than a 30 year mortgage, thus making the bank more money. Now for the fine print. In 3-5 years your payment reverts back to a 30 year payment (much higher) and your interest rate begins increasing each month. Tough if your mortgage balance has also increased 20% due to the negative amortization. At this point you have two options. Sell the house and get out of the mortgage. Also tough if you owe more than your house is worth and the market is flooded with other houses in the same position. Option two, walk away. Most are doing this because they have no down payment and no stake in keeping the mortgage. Banks that hold these mortgages are going out of business left and right because the homes are now only worth a fraction of what has been borrowed-and the bank can't sell the house either. Banks used these mortgages as collateral to buy other assets, stocks and other securities. Thus bad debt on the books. We the taxpayers will now buy these bad debts from these greedy companies to enable them to continue on with their business. This is the major cause of our financial mess. Greedy banks and greedy borrowers.

"Investment Banks"-Banks and Securities firms are required to allow themselves to be regulated. Their books are examined and they are supposedly overseen by the regulators. They in turn are offered the ability to access money from the Federal Reserve at a lower rate and loan out at a higher (arbitrage) However, investment banks are different. These investment banks act as agents and investors in the global financial markets without any regulation at all. They deal in hundreds of billions of dollars and have no rules. The only rule is to make money on the deal. You can imagine the corruption and greed that would abound in such an environment. Up until a few weeks ago, the only two major investment banks left were Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan. They have since applied for bank charter. Because of the global ties of these investment banks, the world economy as a whole is under the same stress.

The proposal as I understand it at this point gives the treasury secretary $250 Billion to use immediately, another $100 billion to use with a letter request to Congress and the other $350 Billion on reserve to be accessed if needed but only with Congressional action.

I hope this helps you understand the commonly used terms that are so important to understanding why we are in this mess.

Friday, September 26

What are you smoking?

Tonight my awesome parents called at 9:30 and asked if Carin and I wanted to go for a motorcycle ride since the kids were in bed and it was a nice night. We said yes of course. We rode over North Ogden Divide, through Huntsville and over Trappers and home. When my head is in my helmet, I think I have many more tangential thoughts than normal. I get a lot of thinking done since we can't converse amid the wind and roaring exhaust.

As you ride a motorcycle, you are treated to a vast variety of smells that otherwise pass you by in an enclosed cabin. You also miss the pockets of warm and cold air as you ride. As we crested North Ogden Divide, a car pulled in front of us and the air became cooler and much much "sweeter'. I have never been the smoking kind you see. (I do however admit loving the Steve Miller Band's 'The Joker') So this car took off pretty fast. We had to have been a half mile behind and we could still smell them. Carin suggested that perhaps they had discovered an alternative fuel and a car that runs on weed. As a "valley girl" she has been told that this is a common practice because there is nothing else to do. That got me thinking.

I would like to thank my parents for raising me right. I never once felt like I needed to try smoking or booze or weed to entertain myself. As a matter of fact my dad has constantly drilled in my head most of my life that most things in a salad are weeds and we should not eat them. I suppose this is a challenge for most parents and just wanted to say thanks for doing a great job.
As for other smells, I am not sure why 7th and Monroe smells like dryer sheets the mouth of Weber Canyon smells like pencil erasers. If I knew what Meth smelled like I could have probably identified a few Meth houses as well. And why someone can't be paid to expeditiously clean up dead animals off the road? You completely miss the experience of dead animal stench in a car.
So instead of writing a synopsis on tonight's presidential debate, I got to ride behind a potentially new form of alternative vehicle, spend much needed time with my sweetheart and ponder the challenges of parenthood. Very good night...except now I have the munchies.

Thursday, September 25

I Simply Can't Wait!!!!!!

I follow the news and the markets during the day and read so much news that is so negative. Here's today's synopsis.......before noon.

A democratic congressman makes a blatantly racist comment about Jews and Blacks.
Hatred abounds....some defend...some call him out on it....divisions deepen-but he's black so it's okay. (Does this mean I have a license to degradate and hate any Mormon? Just sayin'.)

Bill Clinton, bless his little heart, defends John McCain's decision to go back to Washington and deal with the bailout.
Democrats threaten paybacks for the Clintons for defending McCain. (Obviously because he wants McCain to win so Hillary can be President in '12.)

Pakistan's President calls Sarah Palin Gorgeous. Obviously she can't deal with foreign affairs if all anyone is ever doing is looking at her legs! She is a sexist. She is unfit to deal with anything because she is hot.

John McCain has skin cancer 8 years ago-is just NOW being exposed as an old man and won't let reporters drool over his medical records.
What? He is unfit to hold any public office. What if he dies? He is old. He should retire and die. I have a right to know how his last colonoscopy looked-dangit-I'm American!

Hillary is going to be the VP now because Joe Biden will voluntary become sacrificial lamb of the democrats and let Hillary take her rightful place as Obama's VP to counteract Palinmania. Scary but maybe true people. Biden is old and sick you know.

It's not long before we get to vote but I am currently torn. How can I be expected to vote without being told who to vote for? No one seems to have an opinion nowadays.

I have a humble request. Can we just vote already? Please?

If we aren't careful, we might end up divided into two political parties that hate each other more than John McCain hates his monthly prostate exams.

Wednesday, September 24

Personal Hero

So I have been trying today to think of people in my own life that have been influential to me. I would not be justified if I failed to mention President Hinckley. He was a man of great faith and admiration. He inspired millions of people to be better and led the church with true leadership and inspiration. The far reaching effects of President Hinckley's testimony and life will resonate for decades. I know for me, he will always be the "prophet of my childhood." He was there when went through high school, I sent off my mission papers, joined the mission field, got married and started my family. I feel like those things happened and President Hinckley was personally a part of it. No one whom I never met personally has ever had that effect on me.

I see true leadership in the way he led the church. He was so kind and gentle and led in a way that was full of love and light.

I don't know why I am so drawn to people like President Hinckley that are great leaders. Perhaps it's the nature of true leadership to attract people to you and reveal their true potential.

I remembered watching this clip of Glenn Beck from CNN and feeling enormous respect for President Hinckley and admiration for Mr. Beck as he openly talks about his life and how Predident Hinckley changed his life through leadership and example. It probably takes more guts than we give him credit for to open his heart like that on national TV.

If you have someone that has influenced your life in the same way, please share your story.

Finally something admirable from a politician

Senator McCain has done something very patriotic in my opinion. Below is his statement.

"America this week faces an historic crisis in our financial system. We must pass legislation to address this crisis. If we do not, credit will dry up, with devastating consequences for our economy. People will no longer be able to buy homes and their life savings will be at stake. Businesses will not have enough money to pay their employees. If we do not act, ever corner of our country will be impacted. We cannot allow this to happen.

Last Friday, I laid out my proposal and I have since discussed my priorities and concerns with the bill the Administration has put forward. Senator Obama has expressed his priorities and concerns.This morning, I met with a group of economic advisers to talk about the proposal on the table and the steps that we should take going forward.I have also spoken with members of Congress to hear their perspective.

It has become clear that no consensus has developed to support the Administration' proposal. I do not believe that the plan on the table will pass as it currently stands, and we are running out of time.

Tomorrow morning, I will suspend my campaign and return to Washington after speaking at the Clinton Global Initiative. I have spoken to Senator Obama and informed him of my decision and have asked him to join me.

I am calling on the President to convene a meeting with the leadership from both houses of Congress, including Senator Obama and myself. It is time for both parties to come together to solve this problem.

We must meet as Americans, not as Democrats or Republicans, and we must meet until this crisis is resolved.I am directing my campaign to work with the Obama campaign and the commission on presidential debates to delay Friday night's debate until we have taken action to address this crisis.

I am confident that before the markets open on Monday we can achieve consensus on legislation that will stabilize our financial markets, protect taxpayers and homeowners, and earn the confidence of the American people. All we must do to achieve this is temporarily set politics aside, and I am committed to doing so.

Following September 11th, our national leaders came together at a time of crisis. We must show that kind of patriotism now. Americans across our country lament the fact that partisan divisions in Washington have prevented us from addressing our national challenges. Now is our chance to come together to prove that Washington is once again capable of leading this country."

This is what I have been talking about!!!!! I hope Senator Obama will join him. Way to go McCain.

Tuesday, September 23

A Change of Direction

I have been thinking lately. Surprise!! Maybe the idea of venting my disapproval for certain politics and economic policies and figures is not the best thing to do. I remember a time on my mission when my companion and I didn't get along at all. It lasted alot longer than it should have. When it all boiled over in frustration, we realized we spent all day looking for fault, trip ups and things we could hold against each other. It was a cancer that we created and then fed a steady diet of meat and potatoes. It wasn't until we forced each other to sit down and talk about it that we figured this out.

We decided that in place of fault finding, we would purposefully look for two things that each other did per day and at night as we fell asleep, it turned into a nightly habit. We would have to look all day or we would not have anything to say that night. This alone instantly changed our relationship. It went from one of hate and resentment to open communication and mutual trust.

I have used this example many times since returning home but have unfortunately let lax my practice of admiration and praise. My companion was reading a book titled "How to win friends and influence people" by Dale Carnegie. He wasn't supposed to be reading it so I resented that book and thought the title to be pompous and ridiculous. Why do you need to go out and "win friends?" When I returned home, I read it and found that the principle that resonated the most with me was a premise that Carnegie borrowed from Charles Schwab. That is be "hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise." I realized that my companion was using what he was learning to better our companionship. I don't resent the book anymore, in fact I love it. I borrow my copy out. If you haven't read it, get it. Read it. You'll be glad you did.

Anyway, since I began writing about my feelings, I find myself looking for things to complain about. I spend time thinking about how to articulate my thoughts so people can understand them. I'm going to try and take a different approach. I don't want to be negative. I will probably still rant and express my dissatisfaction now and then. However, I am going to try and find stories and people that are doing good and filling the world with positive influence. I think my blog efforts will be much more appreciated by the readers and will hopefully expand my thinking to uncover the good in people. Because I know it's there.

Mohammed Yunus' Vision and Leadership

Monday, September 22

The Latest Pea Shooter is Obama

Did you know that John McCain has 13 cars? Outrageous! Did you know he owns 8 houses? My goodness! Did you know that his cars were not all made by American workers? Disgraceful!

This is the latest chapter in Obama's quest to vilify Senator McCain.

If owning a foreign-made car is a sin now, I would like to know how many celebrities would give back their Priuses for our country's sake.

Mr. Obama drives a Hybrid Ford Escape. He also owns one house. What a patriot! He's a living example of what an American should be. I just wish he'd put an American flag on his private jet. No that would send a message!

I've got to have a talk with my father. He owns 5 cars! Five! Can you imagine!? That makes him almost 1/3 as evil as John McCain. We just can't have that!

As for me- I'm a proud owner of a Toyota Pickup, Honda Minivan, Kawasaki and Honda motorcycles and many articles bought at Wal-mart supposedly made in China. (gasp) I presume the vehicles were all made in Japan. I'll make sure I think twice before buying another Japanese vehicle. I may want to run for office some day. So, I must repent. How could I think of being so unamerican?

Sunday, September 21

My Day with Dr. Covey

I would be remiss not to mention that I was privileged enough to be able to spend about 4 hours being instructed by Steven Covey this week. What an enlightened man. His teaching style was interesting-not overbearing and not boring. He left politics out of his decision making and looked to the higher purpose of life in everything he does and is so inspirational.

One things that I realized as he talked about his current projects was this; he is asked to participate in trainings and leadership counsels with countries all over the world. He is meeting with the president of Mexico soon, just got back from the South American continent and Asia and has in the course of his career counseled with some of the greatest minds and most influential and powerful people in the world. What he has to say and the way he changes your perception of yourself and those around you is simply profound. However, he is not utilized in his own country. After the conference, I discussed my thoughts with my father-in-law. We agreed that we may get more done in a day of congress if they were all forced to sit through 4 hours of leadership training by Dr. Covey.

So back to my thought. This man is a talented leader. He has enormous amounts of experience in both foreign relations, economic and social policy. As he talked to us. I wondered how our America could get someone with these leadership qualities to run for office.

Any of you that are thinking, "Oh great a motivational speaker as our next president, great idea Kirk!", let me explain. His thoughts are inspirational and I have sat through my fair share of "motivational speakers." This man is more than that. He is a leader.

When we are honest with ourselves, isn't the job of President of the United States a job that requires leadership? Someone who can build teams around him and bring out the hidden talents in those around him/her. I won't vote for someone because he's been in public office prior to his presidency. I also won't withhold my vote because of their lack of experience. If that person is a leader, these things won't matter.

We don't expect our dentists to know how to set a broken arm just because he's in the medical profession. We don't expect our plumber to know how to wire a basement just because he works construction. But somehow, probably because of the scope of his job, the President is expected to be an expert in all things at all times. Newsflash, no President will ever be completely prepared to lead the minute he's sworn in. Have you ever started a new job? Can you imagine the learning curve?

So if I had my pick, I would chose someone with a track record of humble leadership, success and significance in the business world and moral values that guide his decisions. To be honest, many of Dr. Covey's projects have a strong socialist component. However, each program's success is based on trust, hard work and individual success-not a hand-out. I believe Americans are capable of more than our current government gives us credit for.

We have a choice to overcome or ignore the metastasizing cancer of political turfism. We need a leader. We need a national goal. We don't need another partisan president. Our goals need to be communicated and then executed. If you were part of a team that didn't use your skills or talents to better the team or reach the goal, would you want to even be part of that team? No. I believe this is why so many Americans feel forgotten in our political system and are resentful of our politicians that claim to understand the "working class".

Every bright spot in our nation's history has been illuminated by a cause that brought every American closer through a common goal. What a powerful union our nation created when we defeated Nazi Germany and Imperialist Japan. What a unity we created in the Apollo missions. What great patriotism was reveal after 9/11. These ideas have brought us together with great force. However, if we don't have a national goal to pull us together, we will be swallowed with up in bickering with the same force that coalesced around such great ideas of the past.

I learned this week that every break through is a break with an old way of thinking. What's your thought?

Friday, September 19

12 Zeros?

In a world so quick to place blame, I would like to know why are the names of the CEOs and investment managers of failing investment banks not front page news? They grossly mismanaged, over-valued and leveraged themselves right out of business and have brought the global economy with them. Why have you not heard of the Lehman Brothers CEO that took home $34 Million dollar salary last year? Curious. His name is Richard S. Fuld, Jr. He's probably not hurting for money but I sure hope he finds it hard to find another job. In a country where money is now controlled by the government, maybe we could lobby the IRS to garnish his pension. He will probably go to the race track a leverage his earnings 30-1 on the slowest horse in the field. Oh I forgot it is all Bush's fault for letting these men be so greedy.

So it looks like the masterminds have hatched a plan to rescue the failing financial system in the United States. I have spent a lot of time myself trying to understand the plan and think most are in the same position. I will try to put it in the simplest terms possible because I think it is important for us to understand. The details are not out yet but should be next week if Harry Ried and Nancy Pelosi can postpone their vacations for a week or so.

First thing is to understand that the guy you signed your mortgage with and the credit card company who's logo graces your card is probably not the company that cares whether or not you make your payments. These companies make the transaction and then sell these mortgages and credit cards as securities on the markets. For the last 5 years, a lot of people have got mortgages and credit cards that shouldn't have and are now defaulting on these loans. These securities that were once so good have turned sour very quickly. The investment banks and other financial institutions that bought them were okay as long as this housing market stayed hot and rates low. They are now stuck with a security that is worthless right now because no one in their right mind would buy them. Thus the financial crisis you see on the news.

Is this the only cause? No. But it's a big one.

So our government has said to these big investment banks with a lot of bad debt (Lehman Brothers filed chapter 11 with $618 Billion dollars worth of bad debt) that the American taxpayer will be the buyers of these worthless securities and exchange good money that they just printed for bad securities so that these bad mortgage securities don't appear on their balance sheets any more. The government will then hold these securities until they are again marketable and sell them when the markets come back. I would hope there to be some tangible asset behind these dead securities.

The dollar amount has yet to be disclosed but is thought to be at least $500 Billion and maybe as much as a Trillion. That's a one with 12 zeros. Put that into perspective-If our treasury scattered that much money on a football field in $100 bills, it would take a person picking them up at an average on one bill per second 1180 years to pick up that much money. We are talking 20 times the net worth of the richest man in the world. I have my doubts that this will not cause a "bit" of inflation.

All being told, I find myself torn. I understand the devastation that this debt could cause our financial markets if nothing is done. At the same time, when the government is now involved in essentially a state run economy, I see something that resembles communist China where all the banks are controlled by their central government. I believe in the free markets but it scares me to know that if our government, who is already in debt $9 Trillion dollars, can write a check or extend phantom credit to whom it pleases, they can.

If i remember correctly, the problem stemmed from when people who had no business buying a home or were no good at managing their money in the first place were granted this debt. Now the federal government is extending credit in the same way. These companies can neither manage nor are they trustworthy in their "credit past."

I am not claiming to have the answer here. I will leave that to the experts. I am merely stating my claims that it seems to be a completely ironic situation that resembles a very socialist country.

Thursday, September 18

No opinion is a good opinion...right?

I attended a symsposium at BYU today for Financial Professionals and was surrounded by many great minds. I attended one session that was entitled Financial Pornography. We often use this same phrase to describe the Suze Ormans of the world that have apparently known you for years before you call their talk show and can provide you with tailored financial strategies just by hearing your name and occupation. 95% of people take whatever they hear as gospel and it trickles into our office. So it peaked my interest. Actually wasn't that good of a class but it got me thinking.

We all were watching what the markets were doing today and were curious to see how the markets would react to a steep loss yesterday. Thank you Blackberry.

So it closed up 400 points today on the news of a government program used to shelter bad debt from the failing financial institutions. I am waiting to hear the details before I post my opinion. All I know is it got Nancy Pelosi on the news and I always like to hear her beautiful voice on the public airways.

What are you anyway?

I find it intersting to think that the average American feels compelled to paint themselves into a corner when it comes to your political identification. I did myself until 2005. I was a card carrying Republican and was sure that was what I was "supposed to be." After all, I do have a strong opinion about abortion and the sanctity of life. (another topic for another day) Since Democrats are usually pro-choice and Repubs pro-life, You can guess where my allegiance fell. After all it is a Republic not a democracy right? I soon became incensed with the two parties and unregistered myself from any political party affiliation.

I was asked today if i am not a Rebulican or a Democrat then am I Libritarian. I then thought I should clarify so you know if you are reading a commy's blog or not.

Can I be honest with you? I don't want to be any of them.

I didn't live back in the "good old days" when it was "cool" to be patriotic-but I wish I did. I would have loved to have been a soldier as they came home from Germany and seen the ticker-tape parades of the 40's. I would have loved to feel that Americana, that sense of pride and accomplishment as a nation.

I was in Austria on 9/11 and for the few months following the attacks, I heard of the patriotism in the States and even saw a little when I returned in 2002. Why does this ever have to disappear? Looking through my rose colored glasses, i don't even understand why it requires a terrorist attack to make us all realize that we need each other.

I guess what I am getting at is this---Politics are politics and I am not ever going to be able to change that. There will always be the party system that bickers and squabbles back and forth until eventually nothing gets done. However, I can still dream of a time when perhaps there will be another option. Until then, when asked what I am, I will simply answer I am an American. That should be enough shouldn't it?

Catching Pigs

I received this email today. Liberals might not like what it says. It's a dig on their entire platform.

There was a chemistry professor in a large college that had some exchange students in the class. One day while the class was in the lab, the Prof noticed one young man, an exchange student, who kept rubbing his back and stretching as if his back hurt.

The professor asked the young man what was the matter. The student told him he had a bullet lodged in his back. He had been shot while fighting communists in his native country who were trying to overthrow his country's government and install a new communist regime.
In the midst of his story, he looked at the professor and asked a strange question.. He asked: 'Do you know how to catch wild pigs?'
The professor thought it was a joke and asked for the punch line. The young man said that it was no joke.

'You catch wild pigs by finding a suitable place in the woods and putting corn on the ground. The pigs find it and begin to come everyday to eat the free corn. When they are used to coming every day, you put a fence down one side of the place where they are used to coming. When they get used to the fence, they begin to eat the corn again and you put up another side of the fence. They get used to that and start to eat again. You continue until you have all four sides of the fence up with a gate in the last side. The pigs, which are used to the free corn, start to come through the gate to eat that free corn again. You then slam the gate on them and catch the whole herd... Suddenly the wild pigs have lost their freedom. They run around and around inside the fence, but they are caught. Soon they go back to eating the free corn . They are so used to it that they have forgotten how to forage in the woods for themselves, so they accept their captivity.' The young man then told the professor that is exactly what he sees happening in America . The government keeps pushing us toward Communism/Socialism and keeps spreading the free corn out in the form of programs such as supplemented income, tax credit for unearned income, tax cuts, tax exemptions, tobacco subsidies, dairy subsidies, payments not to plant crops (CRP), welfare, medicine, drugs, etc. while we continually lose our freedoms, just a little at a time.

Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

Wednesday, September 17

Blame Game

Have you ever listened to a debate or even an exchange on a cable news show between a commentator and a pundit (Republicans or Democrats) or even a congressman or house member and wanted to pull your hair out?

The commentator spends the entire time trying to get the other to admit fault and cross his words while the guest spends the whole time prancing around a real answer and dodging the question.

What ever happened to a man owning up to his mistakes? And why is it such an accomplishment to be the one to get someone to cross their words or admit something that will end up on the Drudge report?

Example today with Chris Matthews and a Republican House Member-Matthews could not ask the question more forcefully if the Repub would admit that the President's policies put us in the financial mess we are in as a nation. Obviously there have been some big goofs on the part of practically everyone but the Repub could not defend the president or he'd be seen as a Bush supporter and ostracised by his own party but could not deny the truth or he would give ammo to the demos against McCain. So he danced.......and Matthews went for blood. He saw himself being replayed on YouTube all day tomorrow.

Dale Carnegie gave very simple and profound advice when he said,"If you're wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically.". Now that would blow some minds and make the news!

Otherwise, the same old stuff makes for great TV or Radio-if you're into the "throwing people under the bus for self agrandizement" stuff. Obama's a great mentor. Ask his grandma.

Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

Just a thought

Perhaps with all of our retirement accounts dipping lately, the trivial will be avoidable in our political process and we will be able to focus on the issues. Funny that today we don't hear anything about lipstick on a pig or if Michelle Obama has a new handbag.

But I am glad that someone has said something about Obama's rendezvous with Barbara Streisand and his closest 500 movie star buddies at his 28k per plate dinner. Oh how I would have loved to hear those 4 songs. 4 songs! See, in 1985 you would have gotten at least 8 songs for 28k. Now that's just unacceptable inflation if you ask me. What's next, five dollar a gallon gas? Crazy.

Big Brother needs a loan

With the news last night and this morning of another government bailout of a big American company "too big to fail", I am thinking those who hold their insurance policies may want to call someone and get a quote this morning.

AIG which has bought some very well known companies itself, such as Franklin Life saw it's stock drop 97% since 2003 and 60% on Monday. Tuesday AIG was informed it now had an $85 Billion dollar line of credit courtesy of the federal government (tax payers) to keep itself in business.

As a fell asleep last night, I wondered if it seems ironic to anyone else that companies that have proven themselves grossly negligent in the management of their own assets to the point that they file bankruptcy, are now granted huge loans of money from the federal government. Don't get me wrong, the government will presumably make a killing on this loan as the interest rate is LIBOR plus 8.5%. (13.04%) You do the math-no i'll do it for you. It's $30.8 Million dollars a day in interest. But guess what? It's not the federal government's money to spend and I don't know why we the people that pay the taxes are not up in arms over the decision.

Parallel Scenario-Older brother messes up his life dramatically-files bankruptcy and forecloses on his home and has his cars, toys and boat repossessed. Hasn't a penny to his name and owes exorbitant amounts to his creditors. Said brother comes to you-(also broke and in debt up to your eyeballs $9 Trillion and counting) and asks for a loan to pay off his debts and save him from even further financial ruin. You say okay and don't ask the wife/husband nor the bank before spending your kids' college fund on a loan to your financially illiterate and inept brother. Sounds like a winner doesn't it? Might not sound like the best idea, but guess what? We gave an $85 Billion loan to AIG this morning. Now the federal government is in the insurance business and is one of the major players. Good luck with that. Below is a comment made from an AIG press release.

"The AIG Board has approved this transaction based on its determination that this is the best alternative for all of AIG's constituencies, including policyholders, customers, creditors, counterparties, employees and shareholders. AIG is a solid company with over $1 trillion in assets and substantial equity, but it has been recently experiencing serious liquidity issues. We believe the loan, which is backed by profitable, well-capitalized operating subsidiaries with substantial value, will protect all AIG policyholders, address rating agency concerns and give AIG the time necessary to conduct asset sales on an orderly basis. We expect that the proceeds of these sales will be sufficient to repay the loan in full and enable AIG's businesses to continue as substantial participants in their respective markets. In return for providing this essential support, American taxpayers will receive a substantial majority ownership interest in AIG."

Because we'll now get a tax refund based on the $22.4 Billion collected in interest? Or get a check when AIG finally pays another dividend? Don't bet on it! It will be spent wisely I'm sure. Our government has proven itself to be a great steward of the American taxpayers' monies already.

Tuesday, September 16

Will you go steady with my friend?

I follow politics. A lot. My sweetheart even had a dream about me the other night that I ran and was elected the "vice president of Utah". I am sincerely interested in the leadership of the country and thus have taken it upon myself to analyze the character of the presidential candidates and their running mates. I am not a card carrying Republican nor am I a Democrat. I wouldn't even call myself a republicrat or a demican. I think the labels are divisive. And that is all they are-labels.
People believe different things. However, there are a few truths that we should all believe in.
Truth #1-Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and should not be restricted as long as it does no harm to others. If you don't like it, don't listen.
Truth #2-We are all Americans- we are all of divine origin. America and it's patriots provide us venue, God provides us opportunity.
Truth #3-We should strive to understand each other. The biggest problem our country has is we don't even try to understand each other's views. With too many it is either black or white. Every issue is not black and white.

When I watch the candidates-both sides-I get a knot in my stomach. I believe we do a disrespect to our veterans when we trivialize the voting process. You should vote for who you think can best handle the state of affairs our country faces.
I don't care who called who what. I don't care if Obama uses a teleprompter. I don't care if McCain can use a computer. I don't care if Biden thinks Hillary was the better choice and I don't care if Sarah Palin's Ex-brother in law was fired for using a taser on his own son. These things don't matter! Rubbish.

If there is one thing that I agree with Obamaites about, it is that the most important problems of our lifetime are being ignored to talk about trivia. Obamaites claim this is the Rove politics in action but if we don't call it for what it is...neither side is without fault.
You can begin to understand why I don't send money to political candidates on the national level. My money won't be used to smear someone's reputation nor waste time on irrelevant factoids while my country withers from mismanagement. When our national debt is more than $9 trillion, we can't do anything but fill the airways with talking points from both sides with pundits' opinions about whether or not someone said something that they shouldn't have. What are we all teenage girls? Enough with the hypersensitivity. Get over yourself and talk about what matters.
Doesn't it kind of remind you of Junior High? Complete irrelevance takes center stage in a world that revolves around the trivial.

What goes on in my mind is now accessible for the average Joe/Jane.

I am often picking up groceries, weeds, or my nose when a brilliant thought crosses my mind. I have been meaning to write these things down somewhere so I thought I would start today.

Most of my thoughts are so brilliant, I never vocalize them to anyone for fear of retribution. My kids are too young to talk to and the last thing Carin wants to talk about is the economy or politics. Since my daily contact with my circle of friends is more like a dot at this point in my life, I thought I would offer a place for the outsider to see how muddled this brain of mind becomes during the day.