May 2008 Archives

There was a great article by Thane Rosenbaum in the Wall Street Journal today. The article is entitled The President Has Kept Us Safe. In the article he goes on to discuss how he believes that our President has kept us safe from terrorists in the nearly 7 years since 9/11. Here is my commentary on the article:

I, as Mr. Rosenbaum, also did not vote for Bush in 2004 (I wasn't of age in 2000), but regardless of whom I voted for, President Bush was reelected and I accepted that choice. I've never talked badly about him at all; I realize that he has an extremely difficult job, much more difficult than I can even imagine I am sure.

That doesn't mean that I support absolutely everything that the President and his administration have done, as the article mentions the Patriot Act as an example: I certainly don't agree with our government infringing on the rights and the privacies of our nations citizens, in fact I am very much against it; but I can at the very least understand why such measures were taken. They were undoubtedly put into place to protect the American people, not to hurt them. I also do not believe that they are wire-tapping my telephone or reading my messages.

I was also in New York on 9/11, and it's absolutely correct that the people had a completely different mindset at that time. I can clearly remember the most liberal people that I knew, people who now support Barack Obama, suggesting that our country simply attack other nations without any evidence at all against them, nations in the middle east, simply because they may have had something to do with the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Those very same people quite suddenly changed their tune as the years passed; now they're against the war in Iraq and think that it was a terrible idea from the very beginning. They're vehemently supporting Barack Obama and the Democrats, and they trash our President every chance that they get.

Now you could make the argument that the people that I speak with are simply ignorant, but if you actually read some of the comments made by Barack Obama followers right here on the internet, you can see that the people that I speak with are not much different from any other Barack Obama follower.

The article is absolutely correct in saying that the winds of change take to the American people as a hurricane takes to a wind chime. They forget that not even 7 short years ago they were the very thing that they are now so against. They are the ultimate hypocrisy.

Yesterday Richard W. Fisher, the president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, gave a speech concerning America's entitlement programs at the Commonwealth Club of California. He gave a run through of the numbers that the future tax payers of America were going to have to deal with, absolutely mind blowing numbers.

They were extremely sobering and inspired me to write a series of articles about it, this will be the first article, covering Social Security.


America's Entitlement Programs Must End: Social Security


The first issue, of course, is Social Security. It's a hot-button issue that everyone knows about, one everyone talks about; well, everyone aside from most politicians, they don't want to lose votes by stating the unpopular facts behind the issue.

The amount of money necessary to keep our Social Security system running as it is now is absolutely staggering. To simply cover all of the unfunded liabilities of our Social Security system from now on would cost the American tax payers an astonishing 13.6 trillion Dollars. Yes, that is an amount nearly equal to an entire year of our nation's Gross Domestic Product; for those of you that don't know, that is the yearly amount of all of the goods and services produced in our country. This is well known of course, but seeing the number represented in Dollars really hits home.

The problem is that there simply aren't enough new workers to take care of the aging baby boomers of our country. You see, our Social Security system was not very well conceived, little foresight was used and little consideration was given to future generations.

The issue now is that people are living for a much longer period of time, yet they still retire and begin to receive their entitlements at the very same age that they did during Social Security's inception. So while in 1940 only 53.9 percent of American Males and only 60.6 percent of American Females survived from their adulthood all the way to their retirement; in 1990 those numbers jumped to 72.3 percent for Males and 83.6 percent for Females. While that is undoubtedly a good thing, it is one of many things that have put tremendous strain on our entitlement programs.

Not only are people living even longer thanks to our medical technology; but thanks as well to the post-war baby-boom, the number of American citizens aged 65 or older has more than quintupled since the inception of our Social Security program. That number is huge on its own, but it is only half the story, many baby boomers are still working and will reach their retirement in the coming years.

The population of the United States aged 65 and older is also expected to double in size within the next 20 years. By the year 2030 it is estimated that nearly 1-out-of-5 Americans, as many as 72 million people, will be 65 years of age or older. The 85 and older age group is currently one of the fastest growing segments of the population.

The fact is that there simply aren't enough workers to pay for that many retirees. The birth rate has decreased dramatically as well, for various reasons. All of these factors combined have led us to our current predicament. Something has to be done about this, we cannot continue passing our debt on to future generations.

Social Security is not the only entitlement issue: In my next article I'll discuss Medicare, as well as my views on how to fix the problem.

Aloha is a hardworking, crazy-touring mainstay of Polyvinyl Records here in the States. Started by long time members Tony Cavallario and Matthew Gengler while they were attending college during the summer of 1997 in Ohio; they have been working extremely hard for the progress of their band ever since. Matthew and Tony, joined by Cale Parks and later T.J. Lipple in the spring of 2003 make up the band as they are now.

With the addition of T.J. their sound was able to expand quite a bit from the band's earlier works; with his sound contributions of a homemade Mellotron, Marimba, Organ playing, editing tricks, as well as his Drum playing abilities; which allowed Cale to further develop his sound within the band.

Their expanded sound can be seen on their first album together: 2004's Here Comes Everyone, which was released that winter. The beginnings of the album were written in T.J.'s grandfather's house in Pennsylvania shortly after the coming together of the band's lineup.

Their follow up album was the critically acclaimed Some Echoes, which was released in the spring of 2006. The album was recorded and produced at the Silver Sonya studio in Virginia, which is operated by T.J. and Chad Clark (from the DC band Beauty Pill).

Some Echoes showcased a further progression in their sound and was praised by nearly everyone that listened to the record; I honestly do not believe that I've read a single poor review of the album. It is an absolute classic and quite possibly my favorite work by the band to date. The album was also streamed on their website for everyone to listen to, but sadly the old band website is no longer available; they now use their Myspace page for their website needs.

Their latest release is Light Works, an EP, released in late 2007. While not as progressive sounding as the previous two releases, Light Works is a light and fine work indeed, especially as far as EP's are concerned; it is a quality release without a doubt, it's almost album like. Though it may be a little unexpected at first to hear the piano and the acoustic guitar, you soon get used to it and enjoy the quality of the work that is being done.

Aloha really is one of the hardest working bands making music today, and they are grossly unappreciated for the amazing work that they have done and continue to do. I have been to several Aloha shows over the years and I am not joking when I say that they are one of the hardest working bands around. They are in what seems to be a constant state of touring, recording, writing and working.

They have played shows all over the world, from every corner of the United States, to Japan and Singapore. They have a very loyal following in their fan base, which will undoubtedly continue to grow as time passes by and people continue to discover them. The band certainly deserves any and all recognition that they receive.

Aloha: One of the best bands that you didn't know about until reading this article.

So this whole gas tax issue has been popular lately; since John McCain and Hillary Clinton both stated that removing the tax on gasoline and other fuels would be something that they would do, and something that they believe would be good for Americans; while Barack Obama opposed the idea.

I'm not going to argue whether I believe John McCain, Barack Obama, or Hillary Clinton is correct in their stance and their beliefs on the issue. What I am going to address is what exactly all of these tax payer dollars in fuel tax revenue are supposed to be going to:

You may have seen the word hypothecation used in reference to the gas tax; what that means is that the revenues from the motor fuel tax are supposed to go directly towards the infrastructure used by motor vehicles, such as roads, bridges and highways; as well as to help with the infrastructure for the fuels themselves.

Many people's main argument against both John McCain's and Hillary Clinton's idea to relieve the American people of this motor fuel tax for the summer has been that this money is indeed going towards the repair and upkeep of our roads, bridges and highways; and why would we not want better and safer roads, bridges and highways.

Yet just last summer we had two different bridges collapse right here in the United States; including the absolutely devastating Minneapolis I-35W Bridge in Minneapolis, Minnesota; which sadly cost the lives of 13 innocent Americans and hurt at least 60 more. A horrible and unnecessary travesty, that undoubtedly could have and should have been prevented.

Several independent research institutions have also pointed out several other bridges in need of repair; as well as vast stretches of other infrastructure that is in need of upkeep. So where is all of this tax money going if not on this very necessary infrastructure maintenance?

In fiscal year 2005, nearly 36 Billion Dollars in revenue from the Motor Fuel Tax was received by state and local governments across the United States. An additional 18.4 cents per gallon in Federal Tax is also currently charged; which is also the tax that the three Presidential candidates and their supporters are debating over. That is a lot of money that is supposed to be used to keep Americans safe.

The 18.4 cents per gallon Federal tax, if voided for the summer as John McCain and Hillary Clinton wish to do, would "cost" the government 10 Billion dollars. What "cost" actually means in this case is that the American people would be able to keep 10 Billion of their hard earned dollars over the summer, while the government would theoretically have 10 Billion less tax dollars to waste.

The argument of those against the tax holiday is, as I stated above, that this summer tax holiday is going to "cost" the government 10 Billion dollars, which would otherwise be going towards the upkeep of our nation's infrastructure.

Yet from our recent history, as well as simply keeping our eyes open as we drive on, ride on, and walk along our roads, we can see that our infrastructure is in terrible shape. From this we must come to the conclusion that the Billions of dollars in taxes that are supposed to be going towards our nation's infrastructure are actually being wasted. Which is not a surprise; the government wastes the vast majority of our tax dollars.

The other argument against the gas tax holiday is that it is not going to reduce prices at the pump at all. Those greedy oil companies are simply going to add another 18.4 cents per gallon to their bottom and top lines!

That argument is simply ignorance. Why? Because the Motor Fuel Tax is added onto the price of gas set by the oil companies, it has no impact on the price that fuel companies charge for their fuel. It is an added tax of 18.4 cents on every gallon of fuel sold in the United States.

That doesn't mean that the price of your gasoline will not continue to rise over the summer, as it does every summer. That is simply due to the increased demand for the product during the summer months. The tax being there or not being there is not at all relevant.

If the tax was there, then the price for gasoline over the summer would be the oil company's price plus an added 18.4 cents extra in tax. If the tax was not there, then the price of the gasoline would be 18.4 cents cheaper.

Hopefully that clears up the issue for everyone that was confused about it, and for those unsure of whether your candidate's stance is intelligent or not: Simply look at the facts and come to your own conclusion.



Released on the 19th of September, 1970, on Young's brilliant and now classic After the Gold Rush album; the song was written by Young and the album was written and recorded between the summer of 1969 and the spring/summer of 1970. Most of the album was recorded in the homemade recording studio thrown together in Young's home in Topanga Canyon;  a very popular and famous place to live at the time for musicians due to its populace, attitude, and location in Los Angeles County, California.

 

It's an acoustic song in the vein of Young's work with Crosby, Stills & Nash, as is much of the album; quite possibly due to the immense popularity of their album with Young Déjà Vu, which was released earlier that year and quickly rose to the top of the charts.

 

No matter what the reasoning was behind Young's decision to record the album the way he did, he still created a great album. Though it was originally panned by critics; it is now generally accepted as a great album, one of Neil Young's best, which I tend to agree with; and furthermore, it has several great songs on it, including "Don't Let It Bring You Down":

 

 

Lyrics:

Old man lying
by the side of the road
with the lorries rolling by
Blue moon sinking
from the weight of the load
and the building scrape the sky
Cold wind ripping
down the allay at dawn
and the morning paper flies
Dead man lying
by the side of the road
with the daylight in his eyes

Don't let it bring you down
It's only castles burning
Find someone who's turning
And you will come around

Blind man running
through the light
of the night
with an answer in his hand
Come on down
to the river of sight
and you can really understand
Red lights flashing
through the window
in the rain
can you hear the sirens moan?
White cane lying
in a gutter in the lane,
if you're walking home alone.

Don't let it bring you down
It's only castles burning
Just find someone who's turning
And you will come around

Don't let it bring you down
It's only castles burning
Just find someone who's turning
And you will come around

 

It is a beautiful work with beautifully simple and extremely vivid lyrics; which are powerfully brought to the forefront of the song via Young's voice and the simple playing of his acoustic guitar.

Increasing Food Prices is a Serious Issue

 

People are going to suffer due to the rapidly increasing price of foods and other commodities. No, not American people, and not the people in any of the more advanced countries. The people that are going to suffer are those truly poor and downtrodden people in our world; there is true poverty out there, people that simply do not have the opportunity to make their lives better.

These people aren't able to farm their own lands to feed themselves; they have to deal with the current global commodity situation just as every one of us does. But sadly these people, these many millions of people, they simply cannot keep up with these rapidly increasing prices. These are people that live on the equivalent of one dollar a day, one single dollar each day.

Living on a dollar a day is known as extreme poverty. Just imagine having the spending power of one single dollar every day and you will easily be able to see why these people can barely survive; that they do in fact go hungry, often to the point of starvation. And it is only going to get worse as the price of commodities continues to rise.

When we hear the politicians and our fellow Americans complaining about the increase in prices through various forms of media, it's them complaining about petty things such as Milk increasing in price and how outrageous it is. But the fact is that us Americans are not in any danger from this increase in commodity prices; no, we are going to be just fine. It is the truly poor in our world that will suffer.

All of us have heard the various reasons given for the increase in prices: From the recent popularity of bio fuels to global warming diminishing the harvests. Neither of these is the real reason for the increase in prices, no matter what the politicians and pundits tell you and want you to think.

Demand is the main reason behind the increase in commodity prices. It's as simple as that. Millions of people in both India and China, as well as several other emerging countries, are eating a much higher quality diet than they previously were. This is by no means a bad thing; we should all be very happy for these people, people that have brought themselves out of poverty through hard work and determination. It is a great thing.

We can't blame anyone or single thing. From the increased demand in countries such as China and India, to bio fuels and global warming; we can certainly debate which of these things has a larger affect on prices, but that is only going to lead us to continuing the avoidance of the real issue: That is the truly poor people in the world that are suffering now, and will continue to suffer as these elements weigh on the prices of commodities in the future.

Can we do anything about this? I'm sure that we can, yes. For example, I simply consume less and waste less. There is an incredible amount of waste in advanced countries; people don't give it a second thought. I witness people wasting without care every single day of my life. It's a terrible thing.

Knowing that our waste alone could feed millions of truly needy people is a very sad thing. We've all seen the studies, some saying that half of the food in the United States is actually wasted, never ingested by a human being at all. The first time that I read that I was shocked, sure; but I knew that it would be a staggering amount of waste based on what I have seen with my own eyes.

The fact is that less waste and more efficiency here in the United States would dramatically drop the demand for commodities, and as such, it would in turn drop the price of food throughout the world. This would allow more and more people to eat, to eat a better diet, and be healthier in general.

So the next time that you're in your local supermarket, don't complain about the increasing cost of your Eggs and Milk; instead think of the poor people that are going to go without due to you continuing your wasteful habits.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from May 2008 listed from newest to oldest.

April 2008 is the previous archive.

June 2008 is the next archive.

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