Politics, Oil, Obama

May 28, 2010

Just wanted to point out a few facts that aren’t getting much coverage.  I saw these in a Yahoo news story earlier today that I had bookmarked, but when I went back to it, Yahoo had “updated” the story and removed the stuff I wanted to talk about.  But I found the stuff in a story from WGN.

A few quotes from the article:  Today, he stopped at a beach where absorbent booms and sandbags have been laid for miles to try to keep more oil from washing ashore. Hmmm….  Where did those “miles” of “absorbent booms and sandbags” to keep the oil off the shore come from?  You think the Federal government did it?  Or BP?  Be honest now…. :-)

“It’s a dog and pony show. What can he really do?” said Billy Ward, 53, who comes to his beach house here every weekend. It’s always a dog and pony show when any official visits any disaster area.  They can’t do anything, and they distract from the work that the people (who can do something) are doing.  But it makes for nice photo ops for the politician.

To be fair, the politician is in a no win situation.  He’s accused of being aloof and non-caring if he doesn’t show up, and people like me (and Billy Ward) point out the hypocrisy involved if he does show up.

No oil could be seen in the water during Obama’s helicopter ride from New Orleans, over Louisiana bayous, to Port Fourchon down the coast from Grand Isle. I think that bears repeating – Obama took a helicopter ride from New Orleans, down the coast in order to see the damage.  He found none.  Zero.  “No oil could be seen”.

Go ahead, look up Port Fourchon LA on a map.  Look up Grand Isle LA.  Look at the amount of coastline and water that Obama flew over attempting to see oil washed up and polluting the beaches.  Damn.  Couldn’t find any.  (Maybe, just maybe, this isn’t as big of a disaster as some media outlets are making it out to be.)

That changed when he arrived at Fourchon Beach, however. A shirt-sleeved Obama walked to the water’s edge, stooping as Adm. Thad Allen of the Coast Guard explained what he was seeing.

The beach, sealed off with crime-scene-style yellow tape, is one of the few sandy stretches on Louisiana’s coast, where most is marshland. Obama called reporters traveling with him to the water’s edge and picked up a few pebble-sized tar balls. No other oil was visible. Again, I think it’s important to point this out -mainly because it seems to be hard to find oil on the LA coast.  I could be wrong about this, but assuming Obama was looking for a photo op and this was the best he could do, I think we’re in pretty damn good shape so far.

It’s also important to note that “tar balls” wash up on beaches all the time from oil that oozes naturally from the floor of the gulf.  When they found some on FL beaches last week, everybody freaked.  But when it turned out that the tar balls couldn’t be blamed on BP the frenzy quickly faded away and it stopped being news.  Morons.  A tar ball is a tar ball.  Why would one be ok but another be a disaster?

“These are the tarballs that they’re talking about,” he said. “You can actually send out teams to pick up as they wash on shore.”
So send em out!  WTF are you doing?  If it’s that easy to clean up, station people on the beaches and clean it up.

More from the story: Early in the morning in advance of the president’s arrival, hundreds of workers clad in white jump suits and rubber gloves hit the beaches to dig oily debris from the sand and haul it off. Workers refused to say who hired them, telling a reporter only they were told to keep quiet or lose their jobs. Sounds like someone is cleaning up the oil.  Maybe BP?  It also sounds like where Obama was going to visit was a poorly kept secret, and that perhaps someone decided to clean it before he got there to keep from being embarrassed.  But if a beach can be cleaned in one morning, there obviously wasn’t much there to begin with.

I do not want to diminish the impact of this spill.  It’s obviously not a good thing, and I don’t think anyone is saying that.  On the other hand, I’ve seen blogs and comments on news stories where they basically say that BP could have stopped this a long time ago, but they didn’t want to have to seal the well because they wanted to be able to get that oil.  That’s simply BS.   If they could have shut down the well at once they would have done so.   Does anyone honestly think BP wants this publicity?  Maybe leftist conspiracy nuts would go there, but as a Libertarian nut, I won’t. :-)

gk

The mood in 1980

May 22, 2010

This is something I posted on Facebook a few months ago.  Decided it belonged here as well.  Hope you enjoy it!

As I was watching a documentary “Decisions that shook the world” about Ronald Reagan last night, I just had to make a comment about it because the documentary did a good job of capturing the mood of the late 70’s early 80’s.

I’ll try to capture some of it here for those of you who don’t remember. Jimmy Carter was President. He was quite possibly the most inept President ever. Even worse than Bush I. Maybe even worse than Bush II. For example, there was a revolution in Iran and a bunch of students took over the American Embassy late in 1979.

The Iranians held 53 Americans hostage for 444 days. Carter’s response was to negotiate. When (after months and months) it was obvious to even the thick headed dufus President that negotiations weren’t working, Carter authorized a rescue mission. Due in large part to Carter’s interference and general ineptitude in military matters (even though Carter was a former submariner) the rescue mission failed miserably.

I’m too lazy to look it up right now, but I know the US only sent like 6 or 8 helicopters and 2 or 3 or them crashed on the way. None of them even made it to the embassy before turning around. It was a PR (and military) disaster.

Another item – the Soviets had invaded and occupied Afghanistan. Carter’s response was to boycott the 1980 Olympics being held in Moscow. That really taught those commie bastards a lesson….

Another – Communists took over El Salvador sometime late in Carter’s term. His response was nothing.

Another – The Sandanista’s (Communists) took over Nicaragua about the same time. Carter again did nothing. In the post Vietnam era, Carter wasn’t about to do a damn thing with the military. He was “born again” (hey, like Bushie II – maybe that should tell us something?) and everyone assumed he meant well, but he truly sucked as a President.

Oil embargo – Carter’s response was to wear a sweater and order the heat to be turned down in th White House.

Inflation at 12% and 13% and unemployment at 7% and interest rates over 20%. The economy was so bad new terms were being invented to describe how bad it was. Terms like STAGFLATION and MISERY INDEX.

With very few exceptions, everyone in the world was convinced that America was done. The cold war was over and the Russians had won. After all, we had lost Vietnam, Communists/right wing dictators – I paint with a broad brush, both are totalitarian – were taking over Central and South America, Japan was buying up American real estate and businesses, Americans waited in gas lines to buy gas (even numbered days only if your license plate was an even number and vice versa), and drugs…

Crap, if you were a teenager from 1977 through 1980 (I turned 16 in 1978) and you say you didn’t do drugs, you’re almost certainly a liar. I was in a small town, Bonnots Mill, MO, population about 70, and pot was everywhere. If it was available there, it was available everywhere. Seriously. Something like 1/3 of all military personnel admitted to using drugs on a regular basis.

Carter’s response was to make a speech saying (I remember this distinctly) “we need to stop cursing and start praying” and (I don’t remember the exact words) “we will limit energy use” and/or “we will ration gas” and/or “we will turn down our thermostats, wear sweaters, join carpools, use public transportation” etc, etc, etc.

It struck me at the time as an attempt to do a Churchill-like “blood, toil, sweat, and tears”, “we will fight on the beaches”, or “this was their finest hour” type of speech. You know, shared sacrifice for the greater good and better days ahead type of speech – without ANY of the the optimism of Churchill.

It became known as the “malaise speech” or the “limits speech”. It was a speech about how America sucked, why we sucked, and how we – possibly, with a lot of sacrifice – could suck less.

Carter made it embarrassing to be an American in 1980. The Charlie Daniels Band had a hit song (In America) about America pulling together and kicking ass and Carter still managed to pull everyone down.

About this time Ronald Reagan started talking about what we could be, not what we couldn’t be. I took the time to look this up, because I wanted to capture it as he said it. Keep in mind the defeatist mood of the country at the time, as exemplified by Carter’s numerous (did he do ANYTHING right?) failures and inability to inspire and lead. Now read these lines from Reagan’s speech anouncing why he was running…. Direct quote follows….

“There are those in our land today, however, who would have us believe that the United States, like other great civilizations of the past, has reached the zenith of its power; that we are weak and fearful, reduced to bickering with each other and no longer possessed of the will to cope with our problems.”

“Much of this talk has come from leaders who claim that our problems are too difficult to handle. We are supposed to meekly accept their failures as the most which humanly can be done. They tell us we must learn to live with less, and teach our children that their lives will be less full and prosperous than ours have been; that the America of the coming years will be a place where — because of our past excesses — it will be impossible to dream and make those dreams come true.”

“I don’t believe that. And I don’t believe you do either. That is why I am seeking the presidency. I cannot and will not stand by and see this great country destroy itself. Our leaders attempt to blame their failures on circumstances beyond their control, on false estimates by unknown, unidentifiable experts who rewrite modern history in an attempt to convince us our high standard of living, the result of thrift and hard work, is somehow selfish extravagance which we must renounce as we join in sharing scarcity. I don’t agree that our nation must resign itself to inevitable decline, yielding its proud position to other hands. I am totally unwilling to see this country fail in its obligation to itself and to the other free peoples of the world.”

Another part of his speech – and the main reason I think Reagan was one of the greatest Presidents. “The 10th article of the Bill of Rights is explicit in pointing out that the federal government should do only those things specifically called for in the Constitution. All others shall remain with the states or the people. We haven’t been observing that 10th article of late. The federal government has taken on functions it was never intended to perform and which it does not perform well.”

I can’t think of a single federal law enacted under Reagan where individual citizens lost either rights or income. There is no other president since Herbert Hoover who could even remotely make that claim that I can think of right now – possibly excepting JFK. (JFK made some starts on civil rights that I don’t believe belonged at the fed level, but overall he also did a good job of leadership.)

I’m not saying they were all bad, but all others expanded the role of the feds – Reagan didn’t in any way that I recall right now. I could – quite probably even – be wrong, but no one could have done more to change the tone of the country than Reagan in the early 80’s.

We went from Carters’ “don’t do that, can’t do that, no way we can afford that, turn down the temp, stay home, we don’t wanna get involved cause we’ll lose like in Vietnam, don’t, can’t, won’t” to “you/we can, you/we will, make it happen, America can do it, we will stop aggression” etc. etc. etc…

Reagan carried (I looked this part up) 44 states in1980. Reagan inspired people. The totalitarian regimes around the world KNEW that Reagan meant what he said. It’s no coincidence that the Iranians released the hostages the same day Reagan was sworn in. Th Iranians KNEW that Reagan would have hit them with everything we had – admittedly not much in Jan of 1981, but a hell of a lot more than 6 or 8 fucking helicopters in the middle of the night. They KNEW that they would die if they didn’t release the hostages unharmed. So they did. (I had joined the Army in August 1980. I bet my dad that the hostages would be released if Reagan won – before Reagan took office. I lost that bet by a few hours)

Within a few years, Reagan could run an ad that said:
“It’s morning again in America. Today more men and women will go to work than ever before in our country’s history. With interest rates at about half the record highs of 1980, nearly 2,000 families today will buy new homes, more than at any time in the past four years. This afternoon 6,500 young men and women will be married, and with inflation at less than half of what it was just four years ago, they can look forward with confidence to the future. It’s morning again in America, and under the leadership of President Reagan, our country is prouder and stronger and better. Why would we ever want to return to where we were less than four short years ago?”

Is it any wonder that he won with a 49 state landslide? Mondale only carried his home state of Minnesota.

Reagan turned the country around. Without him (in my opinion and many others) the Soviet Union would still be here, there’d still be a Berlin Wall, and America would be MUCH worse off than we are – and we are in bad shape right now IMHO.

Yes, Reagan screwed up. He spent way too much and he should’ve vetoed more spending. But without him, it might have been the US gone instead of the USSR. And I don’t think that’s much of an exaggeration. Spending too much money is a venial sin when viewed through that lens.

gk

Arizona and Illegal Immigration

May 22, 2010

Laws need to be enforced. Illegal means NOT legal. But that does not mean that LEGAL residents – even American citizens – need to carry and show proof of residency to any Tom, Dick, or Harry in Jerkwater, USA. The 4th, 5th, and 14th Amendments have not been repealed as far as I know.

In particular, the 14th Amendment states “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

The text of the Arizona law is here: http://www.azleg.gov/legtext/49leg/2r/bills/sb1070s.pdf

I have read it. Twice. I don’t see anything in it that prevents Sheriff Teasle from harassing anyone he wants to mess with, for any reason, at any time. So if you appear to be Hispanic in Arizona, you better carry your papers with you. Even if your family has lived here for 150 years.

The AZ law states:
37 E. A LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER, WITHOUT A WARRANT, MAY ARREST A PERSON
38 IF THE OFFICER HAS PROBABLE CAUSE TO BELIEVE THAT THE PERSON HAS COMMITTED
39 ANY PUBLIC OFFENSE THAT MAKES THE PERSON REMOVABLE FROM THE UNITED STATES.

Reconcile that statement (go ahead, read the law for yourself) with the 4th Amendment, which states “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

I am all for States Rights – the 10th Amendment has also not been repealed. I am in favor of enforcing all legally established laws. I am also of the opinion that I don’t care what the law in Podunk, AZ says – if it conflicts with the US Constitution.

Read that 14th Amendment again. Now please explain to me how the Arizona law can possibly be Constitutional. EQUAL protection means EQUAL protection. It does not mean that any idiot “LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER” can, at his sole discretion “WITHOUT A WARRANT”…. “ARREST A PERSON” just because they don’t look like they belong in the US. That constitutes “probable cause” under this law.

I agree that illegal immigrants are illegal, and that when we discover that they are in this country illegally, we should detain them and deport them to their country of origin. Immediately or as soon as feasibly possible. But that’s not the same as passing a law saying that any law enforcement officer can stop/detain/question/arrest anyone who – in the sole opinion of the local yokel bigoted inbred law enforcement official – may possibly be in the country illegally.

Hmm…. I wonder how many of the citizens – and legislators – of Arizona carry documentation with them – at all times – showing that they are in the US legally? I don’t carry a copy of my birth certificate with me. Or my Social Security card. I don’t have a green card either.

TN has a list of acceptable documents: http://www.tennessee.gov/safety/driverlicense/dlcitizen.htm
MI has a list: http://www.michigan.gov/documents/sos/Applying_for_lic_or_ID_SOS_428_222146_7.pdf
OR has a list: http://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/DMV/driverid/idproof.shtml#legal_presence
AR has a list: http://mvd.azdot.gov/mvd/formsandpub/viewPDF.asp?lngProductKey=1410&lngFormInfoKey=1410

Go ahead, read through the lists of acceptable documents. Do you carry – at all times – ID’s acceptable to the local idiot law enforcement official? Remember that you need to provide two forms of ID…. I don’t. But I’m an old bald white guy who talks funny – no one would ever question my citizenship. I think. But what if I was Hispanic? ANY racist idiot official in AZ could stop me if he believes that I might be in the US illegally and arrest me. At any time. At his sole discretion. As long as he thought he had probable cause – which could mean that I acted funny, or looked Hispanic. Doesn’t matter – the local yokel can arrest, search, question, and detain me whenever he wants to. That’s not Constitutional under any reasonable definition.

Frank Rich is whack

January 24, 2010

Reading a NY Times story from Frank Rich titled After the Massachusetts Massacre in which Mr. Rich claims It was not a referendum on Barack Obama and  It was not a rejection of universal health care.   Umm, what rock has Mr. Rich been hiding under?

For days heading into the election, we heard over and over how Brown was campaigning as the 41st vote against health care and Coakley was campaigning as the 60th vote for health care.  I even heard Brown has a nickname “41” because he claimed to be the 41st vote against everything Obama wanted.

I’m not sure what fantasy world Mr. Rich is living in, but it’s hard to trust the analysis and opinions of anyone who is able to make up their own view of reality so easily.

gk

Party like it's 1994 – Part II

January 23, 2010

I mentioned this a few weeks ago, but it seems to be getting more and more likely that the Dems may be in for a replay of 1994.

In general, Americans don’t like politicians who go to extremes, and when any one party is in control, they ALWAYS go to extremes.  Clinton tried pushing through health care and it was a disaster for the Dems.  Bush got it in 2002 and pushed through the Iraq fiasco – which led to the current Dem majority.   Now it appears that Obama is heading down the same path.

You know things are bad for Democrats when the NY Times opinion page has 3 stories – and they are all complaining about Democrats.  Check them out.

The Lady and the Arlen – Gail Collins

They Still Don’t Get It – Bob Herbert

Mobs Rule – Charles Blow

gk

California Budget

January 8, 2010

I was reading a Reuters story about the proposed budget in California tonight when I saw this:

Wheelchair-bound Christina Mills, 32, of Sacramento, California said disabled workers could not afford to have subsidies for assistants cut as the governor proposed.

“If they didn’t have home-care workers to help them get dressed in the morning, they wouldn’t be able to go to work.”

Hey Christina – that sucks doesn’t it?  It’s sad, but true – if you need someone else to pay for you to get to work, you’re not earning enough to make your job worth the investment in you!  It would be cheaper for everyone if you stayed home and we payed to take care of you there.  Plus, you wouldn’t be in denial about how much your work is actually worth.

Yes, it’s harsh.  But it’s also true.

gk

Party like it's 1994?

January 5, 2010

Ran across this story in the NY Times tonight suggesting that the Dems  are going to have a hard time “defending their large Congressional majorities”  in the 2010 elections.  Interesting….  That’s the first I’ve heard one that subject, and it got me to thinking about the over reaching in Clinton’s first term, which led to the Contract with America and the Republican domination of congress for the next decade.

Could health care (and the resulting loss of individual and states rights) prove to be Obama’s defining moment as it was with Hillary care?  Stay tuned….

gk

Week 10 thoughts

November 15, 2009

Just a few random thoughts from Week 10 as I’m watching the games.

Aaron Rodgers evidently ain’t too bright, cause he can’t count to “one thousand four”.  Watching the Dallas/Green Bay game and it’s pitiful watching him get hit time after time after 4 or 5 seconds.  In the NFL, you normally only get 3 seconds – throw the freaking ball Rodgers!  He deserves to get hurt playing that stupid.

With the defense GB has this year, they could be one of the best in the league if Rodgers would make a freaking decision and throw the ball in under 4 seconds.  Instead, the probably won’t even make the playoffs.

Darrelle Revis is pretty damn good….

I watched Maurice Jones-Drew fall down at the 1 instead of going in for the TD.  That sucked in two ways:

1) Jacksonville was trailing by one.  That would’ve been a brilliant play if they’d have been winning by one, but there are no sure things in the NFL.  Garrard might’ve fumbled the next snap, could have a bad snap on the kick, the kicker could miss, etc, etc, etc.  1o different things could’ve happened that would’ve caused Jacksonville to lose that game because of  that decision.  Even tho it worked out in the end, it was dumb.

2) I have MJD on my fantasy team.  Sonofabitch cost me 6 points. :-)

The Cardinals need to forget about the run.  They are UNSTOPPABLE when they are throwing on every down.  When they run they get out of rhythm and don’t look good at all.  Use your strengths!

Chris Johnson is officially the best RB in the league.  He not only got 132 rushing yards, he had 100 yards on 9 receptions.  He’s so much faster than everyone else on the field it’s crazy….  I tried to trade for him this week (offered Greg Jennings, Steve Breaston, Reggie Bush and Mike Bell for him to an owner with 3 #1 RB’s but only one good WR) but I didn’t get him.  Now the trade deadline in my league has passed.  Shit.

Reggie Bush could still be a superstar – if the Saints would use him like they did today.  He’s a slightly slower version of Chris Johnson.  Or maybe a larger version of Ray Rice. :-)

The Saints defense is much worse without Sharper and Porter – they better get them back soon or they’ll get beat very soon.

San Diego looks so good one minute and so bad the next.  If they could stay “good” they’d be a contender for the Super Bowl.  As it stands, they’re simply another team that’ll be happy to get into the playoffs.

One of the best things that could happen to the Seahawks is if Jones is out for awhile.  That way they could use Forsett and actually have a running game.

Hey Seattle – rushing 3 and dropping 8 into coverage will get your ass picked apart by Warner.   He makes mistakes if you pressure him.

We’re into the 4th quarter and Vincent Jackson still doesn’t have a catch.

Watched the various pre-game shows this morning, and most everyone (especially Fox) was ready to annoint the Cowboys as the NFC East Champs.  At one time that might have meant something.  But with the Giant’s, Eagles, and Redskins all looking so bad lately, not so much anymore.

gk

It was 20 years ago today

November 9, 2009

The Berlin Wall came down.  Having spent time in Germany in 1983 and 1984, much of which was time spent preparing to destroy tactical nukes before the Soviets could get them when they came pouring through the Fulda Gap, it was a day I thought I’d never see.

I remember staying up all night, watching CNN live as people tore down sections, as people took sledge-hammers, screwdrivers, even rocks to the hated wall, tearing it down piece by piece.  Amazing.

At least 136 people died trying to cross the wall and get out of East Berlin.  I can’t put into words how impossible it seemed to me back in the early 80’s that the wall would come down without a war.

Reagan called the Soviet bluff – and the Soviet Bloc was exposed as a bluff when Reagan gave the famous speech.  Here’s an excerpt.

Where four decades ago there was rubble, today in West Berlin there is the greatest industrial output of any city in Germany–busy office blocks, fine homes and apartments, proud avenues, and the spreading lawns of parkland. Where a city’s culture seemed to have been destroyed, today there are two great universities, orchestras and an opera, countless theaters, and museums. Where there was want, today there’s abundance–food, clothing, automobiles–the wonderful goods of the Ku’damm.

From devastation, from utter ruin, you Berliners have, in freedom, rebuilt a city that once again ranks as one of the greatest on earth. The Soviets may have had other plans. But my friends, there were a few things the Soviets didn’t count on–Berliner Herz, Berliner Humor, ja, und Berliner Schnauze. [Berliner heart, Berliner humor, yes, and a Berliner Schnauze.]

In the 1950s, Khrushchev predicted: “We will bury you.” But in the West today, we see a free world that has achieved a level of prosperity and well-being unprecedented in all human history. In the Communist world, we see failure, technological backwardness, declining standards of health, even want of the most basic kind–too little food. Even today, the Soviet Union still cannot feed itself. After these four decades, then, there stands before the entire world one great and inescapable conclusion: Freedom leads to prosperity. Freedom replaces the ancient hatreds among the nations with comity and peace. Freedom is the victor.

And now the Soviets themselves may, in a limited way, be coming to understand the importance of freedom. We hear much from Moscow about a new policy of reform and openness. Some political prisoners have been released. Certain foreign news broadcasts are no longer being jammed. Some economic enterprises have been permitted to operate with greater freedom from state control.

Are these the beginnings of profound changes in the Soviet state? Or are they token gestures, intended to raise false hopes in the West, or to strengthen the Soviet system without changing it? We welcome change and openness; for we believe that freedom and security go together, that the advance of human liberty can only strengthen the cause of world peace. There is one sign the Soviets can make that would be unmistakable, that would advance dramatically the cause of freedom and peace.

General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization: Come here to this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!

Gorbachev didn’t tear down the wall, but the East Germans did.

gk

The future – in light of the past

October 27, 2009

I haven’t posted in what seems like forever.  It’s a combination of work and a lot going on personally, but really just apathy on my part.  I’m spending a lot of time on fantasy football and stuff with my kids, and I hate saying the same things over and over in a different way.  “Yes Johnny, the government is getting bigger each and every day and I think it sucks.”  That’s the basic message of most of what I have to say.

But I read a post from The Daily Reckoning today that made quite a bit of sense in looking at the future in an optimistic light by comparing it to what we faced in the 1970’s.  I’ve copied it here because it’s worth reading to put things into perspective.  Enjoy!

gk

And finally today, back to Bill…

Our old friend John Mauldin answered last week’s note. Our point was that our children face a different world than we did. From what we can make out, it will be a tougher world. Everything was looking up with the baby boomers. Especially in the lives of the luckiest of them – your editor and John included. Is everything still going up? The US economy? The power and wealth of the US empire? And how about our children? John and I started out with nothing to lose. Our children can slip down as well as slide up. John has today’s Daily Endnote for us. Please enjoy…

It’s More Than Half Full.

Ok, Bill, let’s review those wonderful days from whence we sprang, so fraught with the advantages of having nothing. So potent with opportunity. It was the middle of the ’70s when we started our careers. Inflation was high and rising. The Soviets were seen as a major threat. Japan was beating our brains out and buying everything, even if nailed down (like Pebble Beach and New York skyscrapers). I had to borrow money at 15% (or more) to buy paper in order to meet customer demands for printing. And guess what? The banks got into trouble and called loans willy-nilly. (My bank even called my mother and threatened her to pay my loan – against written agreements – and she did. Evil sons of bitches. The more things change… And they delightedly did fail! Not that I hold a grudge.)

There were multiple successive and deeper recessions. Gold was rising as the dollar was seen as a joke. Howard Ruff (a good friend to both of us when we were starting out!) and almost every newsletter writer were telling people to buy gold and freeze-dried food to protect themselves against a near certain economic, if not apocalyptic, catastrophe. Unemployment was high and rising for a decade.

The correct answer to the question, “Where will the jobs come from?” back then was “I don’t know, but they will.” And it is the correct answer today.

In 20 years, no one will want to come back to the halcyon days of 2005. Our kids (all 13 of them) are getting ready to live through what will be the most exciting period in human history. There will be a century’s worth of change, measured by the standard of the 20th century, just in the next ten years, and then we will double that pace in the next ten after that. Medical miracles that will mean our kids and grandkids will live a lot longer than their dads, although I intend to be writing well into my 80s, like our mutual hero Richard Russell.

There will be whole new industries developed in the US. How do I know that? Follow the money. The rest of the world spends a fraction on research and development that we do. Where do you go if you are looking for venture capital?

Do I care if the Chinese and the “developing” worlds are far better off, relatively speaking, than the US in 20 years? Not a whit. Good on them. I hope they make discoveries and inventions and new businesses that benefit us all. But we are not going into some long dark night. We, and our kids, get to choose how we respond to what is the reality of the day.

Our nation had to almost hit the wall in 1980 before a Volker could come along and force us to take the pain of recessions to beat back inflation. And we will have to come perilously close to the wall this time before we take action as a nation. Way to close for comfort. Maybe you are right, and we have a soft depression. I hope not, but even so, the world will be better, far better, in 20 years, with far more opportunities than today.

It was not fun starting new businesses in the ’70s and early ’80s. But we did. I remember coming to Baltimore and being (literally) afraid to get out of the car to visit your offices in the slums. But that was what you could afford. A far cry from the chateau in Ouzilly.

I lived in a small mobile home. Tiffani was born there, and we converted part of the kitchen to be her bedroom. (Yes, I was white “trailer trash.”) But I got up every morning just like you did and killed as many alligators as I could. The rest had to wait till the next day.

And that is the legacy our kids have. They know what it is to wade into the swamp every morning. Never quitting. In thinking about this, you may be the father I respect the most. You have raised your kids to be multi-lingual children of the world. What a work ethic. How did you get them to scrape window shutters at your chateaus? (I actually saw this, and my kids marveled.

Thereafter I threatened to make them go live with you when they did not act right!)

You have given your kids the opportunity to follow their dreams, even demanded that they do so. And such dreams they (and mine) have. Will they succeed? Who knows? But they will go at it with gusto, in a world with more opportunities than you and I ever imagined 40 years ago. And, oh boy, were we optimists back then. How else could we have done what we did? If we believed the rhetoric that the world was coming to an end, would we have dared to venture out?

You cannot have raised your kids to be such bold adventurers without instilling in them a certain high level of optimism. I am going to out you, Mr. Bonner. You present yourself to your readers as a bona fide end of the world pessimist. But you are a really and truly a closet optimist. Your whole business empire (and what an empire it has become!) is based on finding people who are optimists, in the sense that they think they can actually get people to send them money for what they write. Which they do! Even if it is to read why the world will come to an end, which it thankfully never does.

You are right in this: it is personal gumption that makes or breaks us. There are those who started out with less than we did (hard to imagine but true) and made a lot more. And there are those who started out with far more and made less. But there are very few who are happier than either of us. Or luckier.

Our kids? It is not the times which dictate the man (or daughter!), but the response of the man which dictates his own time. Today has a brighter future for someone young than any other time in history, whether they are in the US or Brazil or China. They just have to seize it.

And as our kids do just that, and as the millions of kids of those who read us do so, and the billions of kids who are just now getting ready to bust loose all work to achieve their dreams, the world is going to be a far more fantastic place. Smooth ride? Not a chance. We didn’t get one, and in thinking through history, there have not been many smooth rides. Why should we think we will get any better? Our kids will just have to live with our generational (and individual) iniquities, government debt and all, and figure out how to master their own fates. But if I had a choice to take the ’70s or today? In less than a heart’s beat I choose today. And I bet you would too!

Regards,

John Mauldin
for The Daily Reckoning


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