Music Break: Steely Dan

Do It Again (Live: Midnight Special 1973)


Quote of the Day: Michael Boskin

If we can keep it...

The Obama administration's "summer of recovery" has morphed into a summer of economic discontent and anxiety over a weakening economy.

[Not] surprisingly, the left is frantically calling for a second "stimulus" and demanding tax hikes for the "rich" - aka our most productive citizens and small businesses. The rehashed ideas include such nonsense as massive infrastructure financed by a national infrastructure bank, an old Carter idea; yet more aid to the states; and even that worst of ideas, "general revenue sharing," which would force citizens to pay future federal taxes to fund the debt used just to send revenue back to the states.

These ideas would do a lot more harm than good. To paraphrase Benjamin Franklin, we have the best economic system among the advanced economies, "if we can keep it." That will require fundamental policy changes, not doubling down on the failed big government experiment of recent years.

Michael Boskin
"Summer of Economic Discontent"
WSJ 09/01/10

The Taproot Of Ethics, Values, Integrity

Drawing from the well to reach peak optimism again...

A deep strong taproot replenishes the surface

Last spring I predicted that the period between May and November of this year would be a turning point in the economic crisis and correspondingly in the social and political arenas in our country. This summer has proven that my instincts were right, unfortunately it has been the disappointing summer I hoped it wouldn't be but expected.

You only need to read or listen to the media, the blogs or hear people's personal stories to know how bad the situation is. It is not necessary to recount them here, you already know the direction our economy, politics and social world is taking. Any media story that is seemingly positive is in the context of how bad things are generally. If you think things are ok, you're not listening or in blissful ignorance.

Since the summer of 2007, the beginning of the turn for the worst in this ongoing economic crsis, I have been determined to remain optimistic and rise above the adversity I was facing, knowing that more would follow. So far, so good. This summer though has been difficult for me to keep that spirit alive due to several factors in play. The primary one is I'm feeling overwhelmed by the energy it takes to stay positive in a world of people who do not want to be positive. They'd rather be nitrous oxide happy and fat and there is a world of difference between that and being positive and forward-thinking. While they behave badly as what they perceive as their rightful entitlements are being taken away, I have been smacked upside the head with just how many Americans have either taken many things for granted or expect that they deserve a certain lifestyle just because. I am simultaneously disappointed at my underestimating this phenomenon all these years and profoundly disgusted at a large segment of the American population. The dearth of values in things other than material goods is far worse than I had imagined.

On the other hand, some very good and positive things have happened to me in several areas of my life this summer. They were dampened by several medical things, all resolvable, but extremely inconvenient and not quite healed over yet. They were made even more irritating because this has also been an exceptionally hot, humid and long summer that is not over in this desert yet.

The sum total of this summer brought me to an ebb of my optimism. As I survey the economic situation of the country, my state and city, myself and people I know, I have to wonder: "What happens next?" The big picture is grim in the 5-10-15 year term and although I have faith that somehow we will pull through, the future seems...well, disconcerting.

There is no point in dwelling on all this in the negative. My experience in life has been that even in the worst situations I've been in (and there have been a few), things always seem to somehow work out and usually in the best possible way for the situation. My biggest difficulty has been getting over that I have been playing by "the rules" all these years. That is, I didn't overextend myself in credit, which meant I didn't have the big house, the fancy cars  or the toys. I was comfortable and happy but I am aggravated that people are "walking away" from houses and repudiating debt with little consequence. In many cases, such as short sales, some people are actually being rewarded. For a few moments on occasion, I feel like a stupid idiot but eventually come to my senses...I still have my self-respect intact.

It is incumbent on me to recognize I have no control over people who abused credit and that they chose to ignore common sense and took the money and fled. I only have to live with my conscience, not theirs. My integrity, ethics and morals are intact. It does make me realize that we are permanently entering a new and different phase of this society. I am now working to raise my level of optimism back up to the top based on my values, in order to keep a strong gait in a social world full of people with weakened character.

Keys to surviving with strong virtues in a society of crumbling values

  • Maintain high values, ethics and keep your integrity intact.
  • Build strong relationships with people who share your values.
  • Use those relationships to build a group to reinforce those values and mutual support.
  • Brace yourself for the decline and failure of infrastructure and public systems.
  • Clear out the debris of life, be steady and grow a strong taproot.
  • Everyone is a leader in their own way, be one in yours and follow good leaders.