Saturday, August 22, 2009

Dirty Little Secrets

Funny I would come across this article today. It so happens my sister and me were discussing old times about how snack foods like Twinkles, Dolly Madison and other goodies over the years have gotten smaller size wise, but fairly expensive. Is the smaller size, bigger price phenomenon a recent scheme? Not hardly. And it’s no different then the potato chips trick where there’s more air then food in the bag. The latter by the way is one of the eleven devious secrets mentioned in an article by Tina McCarthy; of EcoSalon called '11 dirty little secrets your grocery store is hiding. ' Interested in some of the others? Well there’s the baked foods scam where so-called freshly baked foods turn out to be actually frozen products. Another older but goodie has to do with strategically placing more expensive items at eye level where they’re easier for you to see, and more likely to be chosen. Then there’s a ploy geared toward the younger fair. This is a gimmick used by stores where they strategically place items appealing to children on lower shelves where the kiddies can snap them up. The author writes about other scandalous examples of grocery store manipulation each utilized to take advantage of an uninformed, gullible shopper. Personally, I don’t think us shoppers are completely stupid. Well most of us anyway. To me just as fraudulent are the scanners at the checkout used to ring up your purchases at a higher price then what’s actually marked. Now that’s really being ripped off.

Bank are Walking away from foreclosures

Are banks walking away on foreclosures? Seems like they are. A while back The New York Times did a story about several homeowners who thought their bankers had foreclosed on their homes. Image their surprise when they discovered the banks canceled the sale of their houses at the last minute, left the homes titled in the homeowners’ name, and then demanded the owners resume maintenance on the property. Apparently one of the causes for this unsettling trend has to do with; you guessed it, the almighty dollar. There’s not much incentive doing a foreclosure these days when the legal and maintenance fees involved exceed the value of the real estate. But hey, that didn’t seem to be a problem when banks were handing out all sorts of inflated and exotic mortgage loans back in the day.

More About Health Coverage

It’s time for the United States to vote in a 3rd party, or deport the people who are supporting the two we’ve got. I’m serious. Just look at the insanity going on in the healthcare debate.

The reality the GOP is a bunch of losers has yet to sink in. Instead Republicans seem to hold steadfast to this outrageous ideology that to conquer the American electorate means to divide Americans. With a platform singling out the perceived evils of minorities, immigrants, gays, environmentalists, anti-war supporters, anti-NRA, or anyone else who dare point out their hypocrisy, the GOP continue to wage their campaign of sheer rhetoric against healthcare reform. One conservative leader, South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint predicted back in July that if Republicans were able to block any votes on healthcare reform until after Congress’ month long break in August, “Senators and Congressmen will come back in September afraid to vote against the American people.” He further added “If we’re able to stop Obama on this it will be his Waterloo. It will break him.”

The rabid sickness of the Republican strategy has mutilated into an uncontrollable beast with senators, congressmen and congresswomen fulfilling Manchurian Candidate roles, willing to forsake any new ideas, innovations, or policies that would offer some improvement in the quality of people’s lives. Keep in mind it was a Republican who recently said the party would never support a bill that cost $1 trillion dollars. But a tax giveaway to the rich with a price tag of $1.7 trillion? Or a war in Iraq costing us billions so we’d get to see Saddam hang? Well those are bargains. Given the increasingly polarized landscape Democrats now are all over Obama, and members of Congress have indicated they could potentially split the healthcare bill into two parts in order to get the legislation passed without Republican support. One part of the bill would include insurance reform, while part two would include the controversial “public option” allowing the government to compete with private insurers. Think Obama is finally starting to feel some of the intense progressive heat? In his radio address today he decried some of the healthcare ‘Myths” Republicans are using to preserve the status quo. Like this oldie but goody abortions would be mandated under reform, which really coils the panties of the Christian right in a knot. Or the really obnoxious Sarah Palin’s ‘death panel’ statement that is being crafted suggesting a panel of bureaucrats will decide who gets medical treatment and who doesn’t. Some questions these panels (probably Democrats by the way) will need to answer?
1. Should old people who are a burden to their families be allowed to die so young children can afford their IPhones?
2. With life expectancy increasing how much money should be set aside to socialize McDonalds, making a daily Big Mac mandatory by the time you reach forty?
Predictably ‘tea parties’ are joining the act planning for hundreds of protests in congressional districts in one big collaborative effort to bring Americans together. It’s only through resistance fellow citizens can continue to make informed decisions about what type of insurance they can’t afford it, and keep big government out of their lives and big pharmaceutical companies, hospital groups, health insurers, and others in with their enormous money grabbing pipelines.

And then least we not forget there are the Democrats. The party that never demonstrates, disrupts, or participates in shout downs like those crazy right-wing mobs are doing at town hall meetings. From commentators, activists, to the progressive bloggers, they are completely innocent of propagating smears, and are currently in a collective chorus of criticism over Obama’s annoying deals with drug companies and other health-industry conspirators. You would swear their man never did an about face on any other important issue during his presidential campaign. The audacity that he has the audacity to do the exact opposite of what he said he would do. The latest Washington Post-ABC News poll showed the president’s approval rating has dropped among the liberals from 94 percent in April to 83 percent today. I guess they’ve lost their faith in the agent of change. But hey, I suppose it could be worse. His supporters could have gotten their fingers cut off like two Afghan voters did last week.…

Unfortunately like I’ve said before healthcare reform isn’t about achieving a political advantage. It’s about Congress doing their jobs and representing the best interest of Americans. The media needs to expose the people who have a vested interest in seeing healthcare exactly the way it is, and we need to put them out of business. That being said, I don’t see that happening anytime soon. The healthcare industry is stretched to wide, and its pockets are way too deep. But like Obama’s supporters, it’s the thought of change that counts.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Heathcare Reform

The critics and supporters of health care reform are really starting to go over the top, and to me both sides seem more interested in fulfilling the fantasies of their political parties rather then supporting what’s in the best interest of Americans. The right is crying out ‘socialized medicine’, literally making death threats, and as usual wants things to remain the same. Problem is millions continue to suffer from a health care system that’s become so bloated with companies each wanting their piece of the pie that cost have soared completely out of control. The left wants a single payer system, or nothing at all. They’re just as guilty for throwing out all sorts of diversions while Obama quietly strikes a deal with big drug companies reportedly to save Americans a whooping 2% on their drug costs. The people in the center, I believe just want an affordable system with at least some form of public option. The current system isn’t exactly killing people it’s the fact so many with diseases have no access to affordable health care that could help them to manage and survive their diseases. It really shouldn’t be about the left or the right, but there seems to be people misled by the propaganda on both sides. How insane is it to hear that if you can’t afford health care you shouldn’t get it? And what makes others think our government, which has never run anything efficiently will be able to put all the overwhelming bureaucracy of the current health care system under its wing, and magically reduce all its costs? To think everyone will have unlimited access to drugs and treatments just because it would be a mandatory government run program is delusional. Yup, divide and conquer while Big Pharma promotes Obama’s watered-down reform package that probably won’t offer any real relief, while keeping all the fat cat players happy.

Read more here -

Monday, August 10, 2009

Is the Economic Downturn Finally Over?

The employment report for July came out this past Friday and showed 247K jobs were loss. That’s considerably better then economists forecasted, which I believe was predicted to be somewhere around 350k plus. The New York Times columnist Paul Krugman believes the economy has finally stabilized, but thinks a second stimulus package is needed for state and local governments. “It’s quite possible, though not certain, that retrospectively, we’ll say that the recession ended in July or August, maybe September,” the Nobel Prize economist said. “My guess is that we’ve bottomed out now, that August was probably the trough month.”

Let’s hope so although there are possibly a couple of things weighting in on what might be fueling the current recovery. China’s economy has picked up again, perhaps re-igniting investments worldwide, and some of the economic droughts in various parts of the country has abated, especially in housing. Will this continue? Another question will be how long can the economy continue its recovery with a prolonged and sluggish period of GDP growth of say 2% or less. Economists have offered this very low level of growth as one mathematical possibility. It seems to me the economic foundation of the United States is so fundamentally bad 2% or less GDP is not just a possibility, but also a certainty for the next couple of years. IMO this will be a jobless recovery that will strain the Treasury and taxpayers, and will be too dependent on increased government spending, and other financial engineering like maintaining lower interest rates. Like I’ve said plenty of times many of the measures addressed in the stimulus packet were needed, so I’m not complaining. It just seems to me somehow pieces of the puzzle are missing. The focus will have to be moved from the current trends of excess supply and cheap credit to strike a balance with actual consumer consumption. Going forward the problem for the economy will be how to tackle consumers who are saving more, and spending less. That’s why when the government decides to create new economic programs these have to be managed carefully otherwise we become what Japan has been for the last 15 plus years. A country with zero interest rates and zero GDP. Then there will be the challenge of a mounting budget deficit not only in the United States, but worldwide. The reports the IMF (International Monetary Fund) puts the total cost of the financial stimulus at 7.1 trillion pounds with the countries making up the G20 group facing a combined deficit of 10.2% of GDP in 2009. It’s possible if the economy starts to nosedive again our government won’t have the creditworthiness to do anything to stop the implosion.

Read more on the Krugman here

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Surprise! Revelations LA Fitness Shooter believed in Anti-woman Doctrine

Who is George Sodini? He’s the man who opened fire last week on a dance class in Pittsburgh killing three women, and injuring nine others. He apparently held a murderous grudge against women, and kept an online diary making his mother the heavy for his feeling of inadequacy. He accused her of being domineering and documented his animosities, because he hadn’t been able to get a piece of ass in the last 19 years. I couldn’t help but read some of his weblog entries at georgesodiniblog where he wrote a lot about his mistreatment as a child, the feelings he was unloved, and why he isolated himself from society. Sodini also placed considerable blame for his psychological problems against a local church in Pittsburgh called Tetelestai that had a sexist evangelist for its minister, and where he attended for 13 years. Apparently it was there he learned a woman was the property of her husband, and other unrealistic male-centric nonsense. Like “Bitchniness in a woman is an indication of the wrong woman.” No bitchniness in a woman probably means she wants to be left the hell alone. For all of you men out there here’s just a few words of wisdom. Mentioning you’re a male chauvinist pig probably is not the best dimension to highlight on your personality profile. Two weeks before the final shootings Sodini wrote, “I guess some of us were simply meant to walk a lonely path. I have slept alone for over 20 years. Last time I slept all night with a girlfriend it was 1982. Proof I am a total malfunction.” You think? The left will throw out accusations Sodini is yet another religious wacko packing firepower, and spewing out hatred predicated on a religious doctrine that emphasizes male dominance over women. Like the church forced him to live and breathe this drivel. The right will predictably see a man with an inherent sickness who took to the extreme an illusion taught by a pastor in military garb that ‘for every right man there is only one right woman.’ All the poor guy wanted was a soul mate to love even if it meant stockpiling semi automatic weapons, and ultimately becoming a terrorist to find her. Hate to say it, but no one owns you love, and it’s not Mama’s fault because she ‘didn’t cuddle and nurture’ you like you thought she should. As usual my opinion of Sodini lies somewhere in the middle. Seems there should have been plenty of incredibly self-loathing women ripe for the taking in the church he’d attended for 13 years. He also appears to me to be a classic picture of a disturbed man really to use religion, his abhorrence of women and his mother, Groundhog Day, or whatever else to kill and then cowardly commit suicide. All his manufactured excuses help feed his reason to load his guns and open fire on innocent victims. No wonder women stayed away. He seemed like the kind of guy who’d marry and kill his wife when she realized what a lunatic he was. If you really want to experience his creepiness watch his home video #1.

Friday, August 7, 2009

A Healthcare Debate of a Different Kind

Doing a little browsing on the internet, and came across an article about how we’re slowly being killed by corporate junk foods, namely from McDonald’s, Burger King, and the other usual suspects. I hate to admit it, but love McDonald’s, especially the French fries. However, I don’t exactly remember them inducing an addiction where I have to eat them on a daily basis. The argument we’ve been manipulated into becoming gluttons has gotten extremely stale over the years. It’s a safe bet there was diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol, and obesity long before junk food hit the scenes. And you know what? Despite the belly aching about how unhealthy Americans are we are living a lot longer today then our forefathers ever did. You know what else is annoying? Why is it always “we” have become gluttonous junk food addicts? I couldn’t eat at a fast food joint everyday even if they paid me. Come to think of it supermarket food isn’t much better since there’s enough salt and addictives in canned, and other processed foods to keep King Tut preserved for another thousand years. Its true health issues are a worldwide problem, not necessarily confined to the United States. Lots of terrible ailments are trending upward at an alarming rate, but is it a symptom of each how society lives? It just so happens for some Americans it easier and more convenient to go through the fast food drive thru as opposed to cooking a homemade dinner that takes an hour or more. Color me lazy. I eat fast foods because I can’t cook, don’t want to take the time to learn, and have no patience with following a recipe. Then there are these little things called ‘genes’ that predispose you to a host of nasty things. Contrary to popular opinion health nuts can and do die from heart attacks and cancer just like anybody else. Do I dare say, because these diseases might run in their families? Getting older doesn’t help you much either. Your body is not as efficient, and you probably don’t exercise as much as you used to. I know I don’t, but then again I don’t sat on my ass all day doing nothing. I’m not overweight, but I’ve had past weight problems that have made me conscious of staying slim. I’ll admit I do eat organic, vegetables, Lean Cruise, and hardly any processed foods. But I’m human, and greedy, so it gets hard to turn away from my favorites like pizza, Chinese food, and fried goodies. I guess the bottom line is you can’t regulate what people eat, regardless of how overwhelmingly unhealthy they are. And we all know people who have maintained their health poorly during the course of their entire lives. Ultimately the blame is with the overweight person, and not the popular restaurants. I’m not trying to defend the fast food giants, nor the food manufacturers that throw all sorts of crap like high fructose corn syrup, salt, MSG into our foods, but education about healthy eating starts at home. You’re just as likely to meet your maker from an addiction to alcohol, or nicotine, and the diseases caused by these products are self-inflicted as well.