Saturday, February 27, 2010

Corporations = People?

The Supreme Court, in Citizens United vs. the Federal Election Commission, recently ruled that corporations have the same rights as humans when it comes to financing election campaigns. This one ruling overturned dozens of laws, federal and state, going back to 1907. In an astounding act of judicial activism, the Supremes new conservative majority showed us that they will interpret the Constitution as they see fit to placate their corporate masters. Since the Constitution was written to secure HUMAN rights against tyranny, it is unlikely the founders conceived of a situation where corporations would have equal (in many ways, superior) rights to humans. In fact, the word corporation never appears in the constitution, or certainly the Declaration of Independence.
Justice Scalia:
“Most of the Founders’ resentment towards corporations was directed at the state-granted monopoly privileges that individually chartered corporations enjoyed. Modern corporations do not have such privileges, and would probably have been favored by most of our enterprising Founders—excluding, perhaps, Thomas Jefferson and others favoring perpetuation of an agrarian society.”
Wow. Talk about a stretch! The founders were wary of any concentrations of power – hence the system of checks and balances. I don’t think they would approve of today’s multinational mega-corporations with no allegiance to country, any country.
I downloaded the entire ruling, so perhaps I’ll write more about this. I think this is a ruling we will live to regret as huge corporations (including foreign corporations, which Congress will now have to re-address), with more resources than many countries, begin to get more involved in our election process.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Good Book by Bill Bryson

Once in a while I read a book that makes me laugh out loud. The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson is one of them. It’s about growing up in the 50s and 60s.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Expectations and a Better Life

One of my readers wrote that we had to have expectations to have purpose, to improve our lives. I believe goals and expectations are not the same thing. However, it’s still a valid question: can you have goals without expectations? If you have no expectations, does that mean you live a life without hope?

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Privilege to Fly? Privilege to Drive?

I read a letter to the editor recently about full body scanners at the airport. The letter writer, in a nutshell, said that “flying is a privilege” so put up with it and shut up. I’ve read similar sentiments from people regarding driving too.

I really don’t get it though. It’s a private transaction between two entities: me and the airline. I pay them; they fly me somewhere. So, according to these sheep-like people, the only way that transaction can take place is if government affords me that privilege? NO.

I get the need for regulation. If we didn’t have traffic laws, stop lights, air traffic control – there would be chaos and things wouldn’t work as well. But, those who think that the ability to drive or fly from point A to point B is a privilege only granted to us by a government are very sheep-like, subservient losers.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Practice What You Preach

A reader e-mailed me to ask if she could use one of my posts. Of course, I said yes. I’m always happy to have a reader. It was an older post about expectations and as I reread it, I couldn’t help but notice the contrast with my previous post today about the weather.

See, I’m angry that it’s cold, gray and snowing. What was my expectation though? It’s February 2nd and I’m in Chicago! Maybe I watch too much TV – seems it’s always warm in tv-land.

I truly believe if I could reset my expectations, I would be happier. I’m going to work harder to accomplish this. Thank you reader.

Cold and Gray

I’m so tired of being cold. I’m so tired of clouds. Yesterday’s Tribune said we’re having one of the cloudiest winters (3rd I think) since 1894. I know clouds affect mood. And my mood is lousy. I’m tired of being cold too. It’s been below freezing for quite a while, or so it seems. I just looked at the 7-day forecast and the warmest day is 34 – barely above freezing.

I’m tired of cold. I want warmth.

The American Dream – A Scam

Moreover, Altucher says the notion that buying a home is a ticket to financial security is a "scam" perpetrated on the American people by corporations seeking to keep us in debt, less mobile and with the storage to purchase all sorts of needless consumer goods.

James Altucher of Formula Capital

The discussion was about the investment return of a home. Since 1929, on average, a home has returned  0.4% per year. Compare that with stocks at roughly 8%, including the latest nasty downturn.

There are so many other expenses involved with a house that you would not spend if you were renting:

  • Insurance premium.
  • Property taxes (which usually offset any tax deduction you get from your mortgage interest).
  • Maintenance (pipes break, electricity problems, etc.).
  • Remodeling costs.
  • Utilities (utilities and maintenance for renters is often reflected in the rental price, but it's not reflected in a mortgage when you own).
  • Yard work, pest control, etc. (again, rents usually have this built into the price, but mortgages don't).

Many people say - "But, you have to live somewhere..." - true. But, you could rent, save a ton of money, and buy something else with all that money. A boat for instance. Or a RV. A house is so stationary. It doesn't do anything. I know some people like putzing with a house - home improvements, the garden; some even like repairs. Not me.

Now, with high unemployment, the stupidity of owning a home becomes especially clearer. In this economy, you can't just pick up and go where the jobs are. You can't unload the house. That's its largest flaw as an investment. It's not liquid - and it's not liquid at the most important time: when its value is tanking.