Friday, April 3, 2009

Fiday's Fritterings

Maybe the real economic stimulus is Mrs. Obama. According to NPR, J Crew sold out instantly of the sweater she wore on the first day at the G20. So here's the idea: have her represent one US retailer per month and have her visit the world, one month Under Armor, then the Gap, the Urban Outfitters, and so forth. She seems to be an economic stimulator on her own, no TARP, TALF, or TOM.

Until the brains running the economy of the country change the rules on short selling the American investor will continue getting screwed. Any time a company can buy up huge short positions in a company then downgrade it, the market for investors is broken. When hedge funds can control, inflating and deflating, commodities at will, the investor and consumer will be at the mercy the crooks on Wall Street. I maintain still that there are worse offenses going on at the banks and Wall Street than what Madof pulled off.

Please, please get the freaking ethanol out of my gasoline. My car runs with less power and gets less mileage with ethanol in it than without. How can burning more gas per mile be good for the environment, corn juice or not. Corn is for cornflakes and whiskey; get it out of my gasoline you bunch of idiots in the congress of Delaware.

If AIG and the federal governments would reduce wages on a graduated basis, say 5 percent then 8 then 10, depending on income bracket, we would be on the way to recovering a bunch of money we have dumped into those bureaucracies. Oh, when will we hear that conservatives have pushed a bill to cut salaries at the federal congressional level? To borrow a question from a bumper sticker, Just what are the conservatives conserving? I invite answers to this question; leave a comment.

This summer, when the state starts repairing roads, instead of lining up cops in their cars every 50 yards along the highway and paying them overtime to sleep or work on their reports, can we hire the unemployed, under employed, and strap some bubble gum machines on their vehicles instead?

How come prescription drugs here cost more than the same drugs in Canada and if we have a global economy why can't I get my stuff from Winnipeg and save some money? The local Rite Aide charges Blue Cross 99 dollars for my nose spray, 60 microsquirts; I wonder what the drug company charges Rite Aide. I have decided not to use it and will consume the last bottle and make it last longer by squirting only one nostril per day until the spray is gone. Then I will use Jim Beam.

I smoke cigars when I play golf, work in the yard, and sit on the porch ranting about how grossly incompetent our governments are. But I applaud the increase in tax on tobacco which should have been done 50 years ago. What we spend in subsidies to big tobacco and on health care makes no sense, and maybe down the road my grandkids will have something from the government that looks positive. Now if DE would start a consumption tax and put toll booths up during the summer, collecting a buck to get in and a buck to get out, maybe we can pay a few bills.

One day we will find out that the poultry business and the government have conspired to cover up the damages caused by all the chicken shit that is spread on fields and into our living rooms, schools, and hospitals every year at this time. Oh yeah, how come when I ride about the local counties, do I see all these open ended pole barns that were supposed to be repositories for chicken manure filled with machinery, not shit. Did we subsidize a whole bunch of garages instead of manure protectors?

Did we ever get the money back from all the cheating, lying, and stealing that went on with Haliburton and their mis-billings in Iraq? Who is watching over the defense contractors, especially the no bid ones?

That's it. Have a great weekend after writing your elected officials and demanding that they cut their salaries and all expenses that they can.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

April Fool Remembering

April 1, 2009
Am reminded today that it snowed on April1, 1964, not a blizzard by any means but snowed, sort of remarkable for snow that late.
Forty-five years ago, I was working for less than a dollar an hour and gas was thirty-two cents a gallon. Two years before I was also working; I arose at 4:30 AM to go “downtown,” meeting my cousin to assemble for delivery Sunday morning newspapers, stuffing Sports into Business, into Fashion, into Comics into the section of front page, then folding and banding them so that they could be tossed onto porches and stoops. The New York Times and the Washington Post were too bulky to fold; we hated them because of their chunkiness and for their paper being so thin that a simple tossing would rip the outer pages. We had to lay them down carefully because all subscribers to either of those two hulks of news would call our aunt in an instant complaining about the least snag on any page. Fortunately, my home town was pretty much satisfied reading more svelte papers.
As I remember, and am sure that I am forgetting, we packed: Philadelphia Inquirer, Baltimore Sun, New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Baltimore American, Salisbury Times and another Philadelphia paper that I cannot recall. I do not remember a News Journal or Delaware State News. Usually when we pulled in at 4:45, the bound sections of papers were already delivered and a few arrived while we were collating; we had to note any sections that were missing (holy box scores the grief our uncle, the boss, would catch if we delivered a paper short a sports section). Any shortages required that one of us call our uncle so that he could try to track down the missing bundle or locate enough extras to get us by. Luckily for him, this was uncommon.
So, we would each take all the bundles to a paper, break them open and stack them side by each. Then grabbing a section from each stack, we would work all the sections into a paper, fold and band and stack it in another pile. By the time we had worked our way through each edition and had piles of newspapers surrounding us, our uncle would show up with his two toned, light-over-dark blue Mercury with running boards. I don’t know what year it was only the color, the running boards, and that it held enough papers in the front and back seat to do exactly one half of the town, Mercury engineers being most savvy in those days. With our uncle's help, we corded the papers by edition into the back and front seats of the Mercury, some editions piled to bottom of the windows, New York Times, Washington Posts, and two Wall Street Journals had special spots in the floor of the front passenger side.
With my cousin on one running board and me on the other and our uncle crammed in behind the steering wheel, off we went usually by 6 AM to get the news to the town. Delivery was the fun. If one can’t imagine the exquisite joy of standing at the side of a moving vehicle, chunking, tossing, and firing the news at porches and steps, then one missed being a kid. Hanging onto the door frames, we cruised east to west on every street. We reached into the car, selected a paper, and tossed it. Naturally, this was hectic for the houses came at about 80 foot intervals, and, since the papers were stacked by editions, each of us had to cover both sides of the street and be proficient at overhand, side-arm and backhand throwing. Accuracy was a must; we had to get the proper paper where the client wanted it or there would be hell to pay. Also, if we missed a target or fired off the wrong paper we had to dash of the running board and get the paper where it had to be. There was no slowing of the delivery rate, if my cousin had to race to correct an errant or inappropriate delivery; I fired his papers and mine. This tripled-pleasure, double tossings at targets plus howling insults at the others misfortune, made the extra work worth it.
Spring, summer, and fall were a snap, rain and wind being the only enemies to our work. One windy, late-spring morning, I threw a high, hard Inquirer that the wind caught (this remains my excuse, and I am sticking with it) and directed into a tall rack of potted petunias, clay-potted. Hit by the pitch, the rack sprawled of the top step to the sidewalk, pansies, pots, and paper ruined. I worked for little that morning; we had to pay for misadventures deemed not an act of God. I say my uncle had an over-wrought admiration of my pitching ability and should have covered the floral disaster from the exorbitant 5 cents and issue he was making on each paper, damn capitalist, always keeping the worker down.
Winters were not much fun, cold, windy, miserable. Snow and slush demanded many more hand-deliveries as wet papers were most unwelcome. Fingers ached, noses ran but we got the job done. The only good thing about winter-work was that on occasion, my cousin, being the more sensible one, would decline work for the comfort of a warm bed. On those infrequent mornings, I got his work plus his pay and would be in fat city. As I remember it we got there about 4:45 and worked to 8:45, worked with all the nasty chemicals in the ink, risked death at every turn of a corner, and suffered rotor cuff injury (maybe) all for five dollars. And what a lovely five bucks it was; three gallons of gas = .96 cents (more than ample for a weekend of cruising); two movie theater tickets = 2.00; 2 fees to the drive-in = 1.00; sodas, popcorn, etc. both nights = 1.00; savings = .04 cents. Life was bountiful.
Am also reminded today that my cousin left us too soon; that Steve-McQueen-looking-drag-racing-Winston-smoking buddy died way too soon.
Am further reminded that 45 years ago, on April Fool’s Day, my eldest son was born, and today, I celebrate that with him.