Saturday, August 27, 2011

Delusional by choice

We as an American people have decided that we would be delusional when it comes to fiscal responsibility. In times like these when everybody is talking about reducing Federal Deficit, in comes the American Public to say that they don’t want the politicians or any other for that matter to touch their Medicare and Social Security benefits, not surprising many people were also opposed to reducing the defense budget. And these folks (according to a recent poll) include the “beloved” TEA Party activists. Now I don’t know how we are ever able to reduce the deficit (and the debt also) when the majority oppose tax hikes, and majority also oppose any cuts to their entitlement benefits.

As I have said several times in the past in my blog that we will have to tackle the entitlement and the defense monster if we are going to have a decent dent in our debt growth, there is no way out of it and in the meanwhile (although I am oppose to tax hikes) it is a bitter truth that there will be tax hikes in the future. But right now we as a nation have lost all sense of reality and are trying to protect the unprotected part of the budget. This debate will keep on going and painful decision will be kept on postponing until we will have to the doomsday scenario budget cuts and tax hikes which I hope will not be necessary. We should stop our delusional decision and start working on reality.

All is fair in rioting in England

The rioting that took place in London and several cities caught the U.K. police and the public by surprise. The usual characteristics of the criminal elements were tempered by highly educated folks joining the vandalism. The police took painfully slow time to response and let the rioting get out of control for several days on end. When the police did show up in force, then the rioting subsided and the whole nation is now taking stock of the situation and how this could have happened in the most democratic of countries that whole communities descended into violence. Although some people did tried to protect their properties and communities but it was not that much supported by the police.

The Prime Minister of Britain has blamed the social media and hooligans for invigorating the rioting. Although this may be true to a point, but the police needs to share the blame for not coming out in force. Since the British police are for the most part unarmed and there are strict gun control laws, the rioting still did a lot of damage. Imagine the same thing happening here in the U.S. where both the public and the police are armed to teeth. There may be many causes and among them maybe the fact that the jobs are becoming scarce and government after hooking up the public on Government welfare programs now is trying to curtail them and the public is not ready for it especially in this recessionary period. All in all there should a public debate on what are the causes and find remedy so that it does not occur again.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The inevitable downgrade

As by now everybody knows that the U.S. government has been downgraded one notch below by one of the big three rating agencies. And this has started finger pointing by the politicians, economists, rating agencies and anybody in between. It was not surprising nor it was unexpected but the initial shock is still being absorbed by the financial markets around the world. As I have been saying all along in my numerous posts, that unless we keep our fiscal house in order and reduce our expenditure drastically, there are bound to be more downgrades to come. This downgrade would have a ripple effect throughout the U.S. economy with the ratings of numerous municipalities and government agencies downgraded and also interest rates on mortgages and other loans going up.

Well how do we raise our ratings again to the top level? Not surprisingly I read an article detailing the same thing. But to do that we need both the bickering parties to regain some sanity and come up with a compromise to a solution so that the expenditures should be cut and taxes (unfortunately) be raised with exemptions, deductions and/or exclusions reduced to a barest minimum. The entitlements should be drastically reduced (since we are living in a quite different world now) and lastly our defense budget should be reduced to reflect the new financial reality and not based upon our perceived status as a Superpower. In this case, like a patient we need tough love and shock treatment.

Friday, August 5, 2011

The U.S. debt and maintenance of Superpower status-2

The cuts will be very painful if we want to put ourselves in sound fiscal order. As an individual, you are familiar with how debt can hold you hostage. You are just a slave to your debt. You can enjoy the money now but then you have to figure out how to pay it back. If you income is more than your debt then it is fine as long as you can pay off your debt. But if your income is less, then you have to have another job or some other income to try to make up for the difference. The same should hold true of U.S. debt. The U.S. is now beholden to an enormous debt which shows up all over the news, but the more fundamental problem is the unfunded and promised future debt that will not going to be paid.

This is now being acknowledged by representatives slowly that all the promises to pay in the future will not be met unless we raise taxes enormously reduces the entitlements drastically and reduces our defense budget drastically. We should stop acting like a Superpower unless we have the money to back it up. Our status as a Superpower is being slowly reduced to the status of once Soviet Union, whose military was great but economy lousy. Unless we solve our debt crisis and start paying it down like individual households does, we should be ready to kiss our status as the sole Superpower goodbye.

The U.S. debt and maintenance of Superpower status

After a bruising fight in Congress, it was finally decided to raise the Federal Debt ceiling until 2012 and then figure out how to cut more out of the debt later on. This fight where there were no clear winners and held the country and world financial markets hostage till the last moment was not the finest hour of democracy. If we had to raise it, why did we not do it earlier? Anyway as they say better late than never. But putting more debt over a debt which we have not paid down any principal is not a good idea if you ask a common person. But I guess there was no other way, since theoretically the U.S. government is broke and does not have the money to pay for its day to day finances.

Although some economists were saying that it is not right to cut the debt since we are in a recession and more spending cuts will further hurt a wobbly economy, but the economists does not seem to see that if not right now then when it is the right time. If they are expecting growth to ride out of this recession and spending more of the other people (read nation’s money) then the economists are wrong. Because the economy may take a long time to recover. Since economics is not an exact science and the economists have tended to be wrong on other occasions, why we should think they will be right this time too.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Preconceived notions, intolerance and resistance to new thoughts

Let’s see we all know that everybody develops these preconceived notions about everything. They may be taught about it, but mostly they have experienced that notion overtime to make it a permanent part of their lives but when this notion develops into intolerance about somebody then it becomes dangerous. Then this notion and intolerance breeds into resistance to change or to new thoughts even when presented with evidence. It is human nature that resistance to new things is always strong. But to overcome those means that you have conquered your learned notions. You can see all around you and the preconceived notions just keeps on coming up. In the movies, television, and the general media and also individuals have made up in their mind that a certain race or ethnicity will act in a certain way and then that notion is hard to shed off.

Although there are laws which makes it punishable to discriminate on the basis of race, ethnicity and the like but unless it is ingrained from the start that all humans being are equal, the preconceived notions, intolerance of other people based on that notion and then to resist a thought which is totally opposite to what you have experienced or thought will never change. And this process of accepting other people and respecting their opinions and developing new thoughts is constant and goes on throughout your lives. It is like continuing education on your beliefs and attitudes and fine tuning you into a responsible citizen of the society.

The email money scams

I still keep on getting these kinds of email where some so called attorney or some person is saying that he is dying or want to park his money with me or I have been included in a will and I will get millions. I usually and 100 percent delete this kind of email. Usually they are initiated from Nigeria but the more sophisticated one have originated from Europe too. Sometimes it comes direct to my person email account (despite the best efforts of the spam filter) but most of the time it goes directly to my spam filter. Here I don’t get this, if you have sent me several before and did not get a reply, why do you keep on persisting in sending me again and again.

On second thought, there are instances where people have been fooled into it and gave up their life savings and then come to regret it and that is how these scams keep on coming in and people are getting duped into it. I believe that the ease with which the internet facilitates faster and anonymous delivery of email (and sometimes really authentic ones too) have made the job of the scam artists easier and faster and they can devise various methods of duping gullible and unsuspecting people in relatively short time. I can only say that just be careful and don’t part away with your hard earn money in this too good to be true email money scams.

On the lighter side-Movies-Yes Man

Jim Carrey stars in this forgotten vehicle in which he plays a guy who keeps on avoiding people while saying no to them and then one of his friends recommend him to a Yes seminar and from then on he starts saying no and finds his true love. Jim Carrey is at his usual comedic mode but this movie was a bit of a drag to watch, with very few funny parts in it. Not Recommended.