MasterPo says: This blog is about topics and issues that are of importance to me. I am not one of the countless blogging lemmings that are tripping over each other scurrying down the hill and off the cliff of blogging oblivion trying to write the greatest blog on the latest topic de'jour. Your comments are welcome.


November 22, 2011

A Happy Holday Season to All!

MasterPo is calling it an early holiday season.

Thank you to all MasterPo's readers and friends.

MasterPo will be back early next year for more cutting edge commentary and insights.

Untill then,

Have a happy and safe holiday season!

November 16, 2011

The “Right” To An Education??

It seems every day we in America, and the entire Western world, are discovering all these amazing new “rights” we have. Food, housing, clothing, a job at a “living wage”, health care, and of course an education. It is to the latter this is addressed.

Sounds lovely on the surface. Everyone has the right to be educated. And indeed you can’t have a successful democracy and/or a thriving economy without an educated population. But the Devil is in the details as he usually is.

To what level an “education” is the right?

High School?
Trade or vocational school?
2-year college?
4-year college?
Graduate school?
Post-graduate school?

If you have the “right” to an education does that include the “right” to attend whatever school you want?

So if we say that the right to an education includes through a 4-year college does that mean everyone has the right to attend Harvard or Yale or Princeton or MIT?

What about admission requirements like grades and SAT scores? (as much as those are bogus indicators) If you don’t make the scores the school wants has the school violated your rights?
Does the school have any say in who attends? Or is that now discrimination?


After World War 2 the U.S. military GI Bill paid a very generous schooling allowance: Veterans received 1 year of full tuition for every 6 months of military service they completed. In terms of a college program that meant the government would pay for a 4-year degree course after 2 years of military service. Not too shabby! The veteran had to apply to the school and get in. No guarantees there. But if they did the government picked up the bill.

Will similar be the same now if education is a “right”?

Moving on…

Once you’re into a school, can you ever be dismissed? In other words, what if you fail the courses and school wants to expel you from the program – is that now violating your rights?

Not every student will be a Calculus master or a Shakespearean writer. If someone doesn’t learn the subject material, at least enough to squeak by passing, who’s at fault? The school? The teacher? “Society”? (as usual) Was the student’s rights violated?

Or what if you just don’t show up to many class? Don’t do the home work and term projects and now fail the class? They didn’t educate you as evidenced by not passing the class so have your “rights” been violated? Why not?

And does your “right” to an education also include the necessity of being provided with text books for the courses?
Note paper and pens?
A bag to carry all your school supplies?
Transportation to/from school?
A wake up call to make sure you’re up in time for class?

This gets very silly very fast! But that’s what happens when “rights” are created out of the ether because it sounds oh sooooo good and noble.

At some point very very soon (if not already happening) the decision has to be made, as a collective society, where the line is between what society can provide you and what you must do for yourself. You can send a person to a brand new school building filled with the latest computers and technical gear and staffed by al PhD’s in their field, but, if the person just sits there in a daze and does apply themselves to the material, doesn’t do the assignments, doesn’t participate, then nothing can be done. Some subject matter is hard to comprehend let alone master. If it were that simple everyone would be a PhD.

A “right” isn’t always right.

November 12, 2011

Identify Theft – In Reverse!

Identity theft (which used to be called “impersonation”) is all the rage to talk about these days. Many companies make a tidy sum selling various services they claim monitor your identity and warn or even prevent when someone tries to impersonate you. MasterPo has heard mixed reviews of these but they – and the entire indentity theft conversation – overlooks the reverse scenario.

That is: What happens when someone or some entity insists you are someone else?!

That sort of happened to MasterPo and Mrs. MasterPo a few years ago.

We bought a new cell phone and was assigned a phone number from the carrier. But as it turned out the phone number had previously been used by someone in New York City, apparently as their primary number. We kept getting calls for that person.

At first it was typical stuff like sales calls, notice your Rx is ready, etc.

Then it got a bit more personal in the sense that why didn’t this person notify these people of their new number? We received calls from a mechanic shop that his car was ready and other seemingly important businesses calling to tell this person something they ordered or requested or wanted or paid for was ready for them.

Then came the next step: Calls from utility companies.

Apparently this guy owed a lot to utilities, especially Time Warner Cable.

We tried very hard to say that we aren’t this guy, we just bought a new cell phone and this is the number that was assigned.

But they didn’t listen.

Realistically MasterPo can see the other side. Someone owes a lot of money, this is the number the creditor has on file for them, but now the voice on the line claims they aren’t the one who’s on the owed account. Frankly if someone who owed MasterPo money and when called the voice at the other end claimed this wasn’t them MasterPo would be skeptical too.

But try as we did MasterPo and Mrs. MasterPo just couldn’t stop the calls that came at all hours of the day and night.

In the end MasterPo had to change the number again and then the calls stopped (but not before we had some fun at the company’s expense!).

In this case there was little the businesses could do to MasterPo. But this does show identify theft in reverse. Maybe call it “Identity Assignment”?

November 7, 2011

This Is America’s Future (?!)

The future of any nation lays with the next generation – the children. We can debate the effectiveness or the lack thereof of the American education system but as the saying goes it’s attitude that makes the difference. And the attitude of today’s American youth is, to put it mildly, appalling!

Here are some examples:

Several years ago there was a young man by the name of Patrick who was very active on all the saltwater fishing forums in the Northeast. (MasterPo has written about Patrick before). He was a lad of about 16/17 when he came on the scene and tried so desperately to want to run with the big boys – experienced sport fisherman who had twice is age in fishing experience. Alas, poor Patrick took soooooooo much heat and criticism for many of his comments. Most were well deserved in MasterPo’s opinion too.

Finally, when Patrick couldn’t run with the big dogs he took to impugning them, their tackle and techniques, fishing reports etc. So much so that it was said several tackle manufactures threatened in writing from their lawyers to sue him for slander! Bet that made his parents happy. MasterPo understands he even received threats of physical harm.

Patrick then went on to pretty much take whatever opposing stance these people expressed on subjects of work, politics, religion, school, professions, etc. Very very sad that he was only able to relate to his seniors by insulting them. MasterPo wouldn’t be surprised if Patrick is now one of the Occupy Wall Street rioters now.

After about 3 years Patrick disappeared and to MasterPo’s knowledge hasn’t been seen on a fishing forum again since. Probably his parents got tired of having to pay lawyer fees to respond to slander cease&desist letters and took away his computer. Most likely they told him if he has the time to slander online he has the time to get a job! Today, young Patrick would be nearly 30 years old. MasterPo wonders if he has changed his ways. Hopefully.

Then there was the story of Paul, aka Martini.

Paul was a young kid in his early 20’s when MasterPo encountered him at work. His nickname was Martini after the character from “One Who Flew Over The Coo-Coo’s Nest”, part because he was one of 4 Paul’s in the office and part because he was a simplistic young man.

Paul could have had a decent career at that organization, maybe even risen to a management level, if he was just more conscientious and paid attention. Instead, he listened to the 20-30 year veterans of the organization and their tainted views of the world. Maybe they really did have a beef at some point, maybe not. But that’s literally decades ago for many and Paul shouldn’t let their experiences sour his fresh starting career. But he did. Within months Paul was talking smack about the managers and the organization as whole as if he too was a 20-year veteran. A lost and bitter soul at such a young age.

Finally and especially sad is the ongoing current story of Donald (not his real name).

Donald is young boy of 17, a High School Senior, and not a bad kid at all. MasterPo wouldn’t even call him lazy. Just unthinking, unconcerned, uncaring.

Last year Donald showed an interest in the culinary arts. So he attended a cooking program at a local school (in addition to High School). Late this year he was dropped. Didn’t pass because he didn’t attend enough classes and didn’t finish his cooking assignments. Now he wants to be Police.

All this time he has also been taking part in a Navy High School program called Sea Cadets. He (and I think his parents) wants to go into the Navy after High School and the Sea Cadets gives them a pre-view of Navy life as well as getting him in at a higher grade than an off-the-street recruit (think ROTC for enlisted). That he’s doing decently in. But he has to take the Armed Services Aptitude test (ASVAB) to be in the MP’s.

Here’s where it gets really sad: He will tell you all he needs is a score of 50 to be a Military Police. (Top score on the test is 100 which we calls “rocket scientist” level.) But 50 is only the minimum score needed to just be considered for the MP’s. It doesn’t guarantee anything. In fact, if Donald gets a 50 and someone else has an 80 and the MP’s only have one opening in the next training slot who do you think will get that slot? Yet Donald will just say all he’s aiming for is a 50.

MasterPo and Mrs. MasterPo (who is trying to tutor him in the math part of the test, but even then Donald doesn’t do his homework rather than hanging with his friends!) have tried to explain this to him. He doesn’t seem to get it. Deer-in-the-headlights stare. Worse still, Donald says his parents and his uncle will pay him $100 if he gets just a 50 so that’s what he’s aiming for! In fact, Donald says that all his life his family has told him to just do the minimum needed to get by!

What kind of lesson is that to teach a child?!

MasterPo will grant that sometimes a minimal effort is the best you can do. That is, in a few very specific situations (which are generally also very situational) there is a time and a place to “just get by”. But now is not that time of place for a young man like Donald! He’s too many years away from encountering that kind of scenario much less being able to make an informed judgment as to whether or not to “just get by”.

This is the future of American. The next American generation.

Heaven help us all!

October 29, 2011

Adoption: For the Love of a Parent



Note: The following is from a reader who wishes to remain anonymous.


In a previous article I discussed the issue of a birth mother who many years ago gave up a child for adoption and now, perhaps decades later, decides to go searching for the child. In this scenario it was a closed adoption meaning no contact at all from the adoptive parents. Now the birth mother feels a yearning to find out what happened to "her" child and to reconnect.

In my prior article, while I sympathized with the feelings of the birth mother, I also pointed out there are many ways such a reunion might go much different and darker than she envisions. That is, the child who is now probably at least in his/her teens may not react as openly and lovingly as you believe they will for a variety of reason. Read that article for the different scenarios.

It is my thesis that a birth mother searching for "her" child years/decades later has to be prepared for all scenarios, not just the one hopeful starry-eyed mother/child reunion. It might be a Hallmark moment but it might not be too.

Now I want add another set of scenarios to that thesis.

Look at it as well from the adoptive parents' point of view.

If the parents adopted a child in a closed adoption arrangement they did not expect any further communication or contact from the birth mother (or birth father too if he is in the picture as well). In fact, as alien as it may seem to many die-hard adoption devotees, many adoptive parents specifically do not want contact with the birth mother after the placement! That is, the adoptive parents want a closed/no contact adoption.

Now years perhaps a decade or more later, the birth mother makes contact from out of the blue.

I acknowledge it is certainly a possibility the adoptive parents will be open about it. It is possible they will be glad you contacted them and will be open to considering meeting you. Then arrange to re-unite you and the child. This would be the ideal scenario.

But not the only possible scenario!

Do not underestimate the love of a parent to protect their child, biological or adopted!
As in my prior article, you don't know what they child has been told about the circumstances of his/her life (i.e. if they even know they are adopted much less the situation around the adoption). And, like it or not (and I'm sure you don't), the adoptive parents may view you as a threat to the child and their family. Not a physical threat (I hope not!) per se. But rather an upsetting factor. Even a problem they want to avoid.

From their point of view they may see the situation as having parted ways with you years ago and that's that.

Or, perhaps they see the situation has never intending or even wanting contact with you after the adoption.

To that end, be prepared to be rejected by the adoptive parents. Maybe even receive a hostile greeting from the adoptive parents if they view you as a threat to the child or the family.

The love of a parent is not merely from blood relationship. As such, a parent will fight to protect their child from what they perceive as danger.

As I had indicated before, finding a child given up for adoption is a noble concept. But it isn't just you the birth mother (and father) involved.

Think before you leap.

October 26, 2011

Biting The Hand That Feeds You? (Why a Government-Run Healthcare System WILL Destroy Your Freedom!)



There already has been so much written about the pros and cons of a government-run healthcare system. I'm not going to rehash the same old-same old that can be found all over the blogosphere and forums. But there is one aspect of such a system that I have rarely seen addressed that I do believe must also be taken into consideration.

How can you have freedom of speech and protest against the same government that you rely on to provide for your and your loved one's health??

Think about it.

In a government run healthcare system you need the government to review and approve all your healthcare requests. Especially serious, chronic life&death treatments that are usually time consuming and very expensive.

So how can you bee free to voice opposition, much less strong impassioned opposition, against the same government that you then need to turn to in order to save your life or the love of someone you love?!

The answer is simple: You can't!

Just imagine an outspoken critic of the government then needing a major medical procedures – or worse, someone in their family needing it – and now having to apply to this same government that they have been soooooooo critical of to approve the treatment and payment. One would hope that politics remains out of the decision process but nothing in government is without some measure of politics.

Just imagine someone like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannety, Mark Levine, Bill O'Reilly, Lou Dobbs, Dick Morris, Laura Ingrham, et al. suddenly needing cancer treatment or a organ transplant or perhaps life time treatment for something like MS or Parkinson's. Do you really think the government would be so quick and eager to provide it? MasterPo doesn't.

Not that government would outright say "No!" to the treatment (they might, who knows what politics will be like in the future!) but through weeks and months and possibly years of bureaucracy and the red tape government is famous for treatment will be delayed, withheld, or denied.

When you rely on someone else for literally your very life and the life of the people you love and care for how can you speak freely in criticism of them?

You can't!

Thus is how freedom dies.
Not with a gun shot.
But with something much worse – good intentions.

October 22, 2011

Not Out Of Touch!

This article is in response to a friends’ article on his blog (not going to post the link for personal reasons).

The up-shot of his article is that he recently visited a friend in the mid-West who is in a very dire situation financially. A common story these days: Divorced, child support, lost good job, living in small rental apartment with roommate, gave up car etc. All too common in America these days.

By contrast MasterPo’s friend feels he is in a much better position financially and doesn’t worry (right or wrong) about such things. Not being married and having no kids helps the situation (a sad commentary too on America!). But he feels he has lost some prospective on the national environment. He claims he too was in that similar situation some years ago and through a lot of time, hard work and risk made himself better off.

In MasterPo’s opinion this guy has nothing to feel “out of touch” or more likely guilty about!

Different people live different lives. We all make decisions that lead to different results. Sometimes we think we know the outcomes of our decisions and other times we don’t have a clue where it will lead. MasterPo isn’t going to second guess the life decisions of MasterPo’s friend or the friend’s friend. But whatever those decisions were it lead to where they are today:

Plus a dose of the X Factor: The unknown often uncontrollable events in life that we have know idea will happen nor any real ability to change or prevent them from happening (example: could anyone reading this have truly known for a fact terrorists would strike on 9/11? Even if you felt it was possible what could you personally have done to stop it?).

It’s human compassion to feel compassion for someone in a bad position. And it’s normal to pause and consider: By the grace of G-d go thee.

But there is no need to feel out of touch. Either by hard work or circumstance or just good luck you didn’t end up in a similar position (at least not yet, things tend to run in cycles). It speaks well that you have empathy for someone’s plight and self reflection to recognize you too could easily be in the same circumstances. But just because he is in a bad place and you aren’t does not make you “out of touch”.

Just don’t say “Let them eat cake”.

October 18, 2011

Business and Government in a Petri Dish

By this point in modern American history the “great experiment” of government economic and social planning verses private sector/business should have proven to all that, on the whole, to be a great failure!

MasterPo isn’t going to list all the reasons that are so often listed on other sites. But there is one significant difference between the plans of government and the plans of business.

Government can create a plan (program), allocate funds that typically means borrowing which is fine, then projects that 5 years (or whatever time frame) the results (return) will be whatever.

Business often does the same thing.

But…

When a business starts project, borrows money to pay for it, makes a time line projection as to the return on the project, if at that future time the project doesn’t yield the return expected or fails in total the business takes a big hit! Maybe even goes out of business if the risk was so high. (Realistically, the business isn’t waiting until whatever future time, it already knows long before then if the project is doing well or not and may cancel the project is things don’t go as well as expected.)

By contrast, with government when the future time comes no one even bothers to look back and see if the program returned anywhere near what the claim was at the start. And more over, any return, even a mere 1% or less is deemed “successful” and therefore justifies the expense and resources expended. So all the money borrowed for the program that wasn’t made back just gets dumped on the ever growing pile of the national debt. There are no ramifications for those who proposed the program, voted for it, implemented it, managed it etc. No one gets fired. No one gets sued. No one even gets called before a committee to explain the failure. Just life goes on willy-nilly.

What business could survive doing that?! None. And that’s why government can’t be deemed a player, a “competitor”, in the business environment. Government can operate for years, decades even, at a loss without serious ramifications to those involved. Now we are finally seeing the weight of all that spending and Devil-may-care lack of planning and review. But even still, who is being taken to task officially for it? Who lost their job and reputations in disgrace? Who went to jail?! No one.

Government’s ability to borrow money pretty much at will and with few limits (Federal level at least) or print money (Federal) makes it the ultimate anti-competition entity in the universe! No private for-profit organization (and many non-government not-for-profit organizations too) can compete for years much less decades with such an entity under those conditions.

No business ever welcomed help from the government. The same can be said for government “competition”.

October 10, 2011

What The Transformers Can Teach To Occupy Wall Street Supporters

MasterPo grew up loving the Transformers animated TV show. This was the original Transformers before they started adding new robots every week and lost any kind of story plot consistency. Back when cartoons were real shows and not 24 minute (after commercials) commercials for products. The characters were creative (especially the Dinobots!) and stories not too cartoonish. Ahhh…….

With the events of Occupy Wall Street (and other locals) a particular episode of the Transformers has come to mind again.

In one of the original series episodes the story delved into the origins of the leader of the Autobots Optimus Prime. MasterPo doesn’t know if this is canon for the current generation of Transformers (though it should be!).

The story goes that back on Cybertron (the home of the Autobots and Decepticons) Optimus was originally a young and idealistic robot named Orion Pax (which is irony since “Pax” means peace). He had a female robot girlfriend (don’t recall her name) and worked with an older, wiser Mr. Miyagi style of robot in some kind of mechanical shop.

It was at the end of the Golden Age of Cybertron. The Decepticons were just starting to attack cities. No one knew where they came from, who built them, or what they wanted just that they were powerful and attacked all that had been SOP on Cybertron for eons.

Orion Pax idealized the Decepticons because they could fly, had so much power, and were afraid of no one. A real teenager’s idol. He dreamed of meeting Megatron and the Decepticons. Maybe even becoming one too! He didn’t care if they attacked some places. “That’s what Guardian Robots” – their police force? – “are for!” he said.

Then the Decepticons came to his city.

At first he was thrilled to be meeting them finally. But Megatron wouldn’t have anything to do with him and threw him aside.

Then they attacked the city.

No Guardian Robots were there to even try to defend them.

Orion was badly hurt and his girlfriend too.

The Mr. Miyagi robot took Orion into his shop and worked on him. When he emerged Orion Pax was now Optimus Prime with all the power, arms and armor to fight back against the Decepticons. He single handedly drove them off from this city. Optimus then swore to stop the Decepticons however long it would take.

And he went off in pursuit of the Decepticons.

(After Optimus left Mr. Miyagi robot took his girlfriend into the shop and said he was going to create a new class of robot and call he Elita-1 but we never saw her final incarnation in that or any other episode MasterPo knows about.)

So what does all this have to do with Occupy Wall Street?

Plenty.

Be careful who you idealize!!

Just as Orion Pax idealized the Decpticons, it was too late when he found out the truth wasn’t nearly as pretty as the popular image so too will likely the supporters of Occupy Wall Street find out all too late the people behind the protests aren’t the warm and fuzzy boy/girl-next-door type until it’s too late.

And this time there won’t be an honorable defender knight in shining armor coming to save you.

October 5, 2011

Questions for Occupy Wall Street

By now most readers are away of the movement in the U.S. calling itself “Occupy Wall Street”. Along with its other spinoffs like Occupy Boston, Occupy Los Angles, etc. it’s basically a 1960’s still sit-in protest event designed to clog the streets until certain “demands” are met. Many of these “demands” are the usual liberal/socialist/progressive stuff about banks and CEO’s and corporations along with a good sprinkling of environmental “green” stuff, the usual “human rights” and “gay rights” protestors, lots of pro-union people etc etc etc.

For several days now MasterPo has been monitoring the situation from the point of view of the media at large (MSNBC, CNN, Fox), certain commentators like Beck and Rush, and from the protestor’s own mouths via Twitter. And to the latter, MasterPo has conversed with several protestors about their stand and outlook on things.

The topics expressed and the desired results of this protest are, to say the least, “interesting” if not outright comical insofar as pie-in-the-sky feel-good results. This is truly a 21st century Woodstock event!

While gathering information for this article about the protestors it occurred to MasterPo, based on what he has read and heard from protestors, there are a lot more questions than answers. And even more importantly, it does not seen as if anyone knows where to even begin answering the questions!

With that in mind, rather than write a complete article critiquing the Occupy Wall Street protests, MastePo will simply list many of the questions he’s been asking and not getting any solid answers for. They are listed in no particular order unless otherwise stated.

If anyone can answer those questions precisely please post as a comment.

Who is in charge around here?
Who is the leader or group of leaders of this protest?
Gandhi was the leader of his protest.
Martin Luther King, Jr was the leader of his movement.
The Founding Fathers, as listed on the Declaration of Independence, were the leaders of the colonies.
Moses was the leader of his people out of slavery in Egypt.


So who leads this group?

It’s a very important question. If you don’t know who is leading how do you know you’re putting your support to the right people? Slogans aren’t a movement. They don’t make results.

Who makes decisions around here?

Just as with a leader, who decides what (and who) is a fair point or target or not?

Similarly, if the object of your protest wants to meet and discuss things who do they meet with?
Who in the protest has the authority to speak and decide for the rest?
Whose word is so trusted to represent you?


You can’t say “democracy” because that’s mob rule. Even if an agreement for action is made between some protestors and some protestee who is going to ensure the rest of the protestors abide by it? You can’t make peace with every single individuals’ agenda.

Who decides your next victims?

Today you’re protesting against banks, and bank and corporate CEOs (among others).

Wo decides against whom you’ll be protesting tomorrow?
Where does it end?
How about the bank/corporate VP’s?
Directors?
General Managers?
Project Managers?
Regional Managers?
Office Managers?
Office administrators?
How about the compute programmer that writes the software that charges you 25% interest when your credit card payment is 1 day late?
Or the Dunkin Donuts owner who sells cake and coffee to the executive meetings?


And now you’re targeting people with 7-figure incomes.

How about 6-figure incomes?
Or just high 5-figure incomes?
Or maybe someone who just makes more than you whatever that is?


How far does it go?

Even the law has a Statute of Limitations for liability. So what is yours??

How do you count yourselves?

Since this isn’t anything formally organized how can you really know how many are truly in your corner and who are just “tourists” with nothing better to do?

Who says “Stop!”?

Without a leader or leadership who decides when enough is enough?
Who decided when it’s time to go home?
Who decides the goals of the protest have been met? Or at least met enough for now?


And very importantly:

Who decides what actions of the protest are to be condoned and which are to be shunned?

This is an extremely important question since eventually someone is going to get frustrated or just plain go bonkers and start violence. So who is going to stand up and say “We are not about violence!” and say those committing violence are not representative of your movement?

Or are they?

What is the End-Game?

In reading what protestors are posting on Twitter and other sites, and in chatting with several on Twitter no one seems to know what the end will look like. Sure there are a lot of pretty feel-good descriptions about “rights” and “fairness” but where the rubber meets the road what does this mean in terms of actually implementing the changes you want?

What does America look like after you succeed?

Related to the above question, if your protest is successful as you dream it will be, when people wake up the next day what does daily life in America for Joe Average man/woman now look like?

You’re protesting major changes to everything from banking and insurance and energy to union contracts and government representation. So what does daily life really look like afterwards?

Please don’t answer about being more”fair” or “respected” or “better”.

Please be specific.

For example, after you succeed how will the supermarkets be well stocked (at anything like reasonable prices) as they are now?
How will garbage be collected and sanitarily disposed of?
How will law enforcement be preventing crime and punishing those who do commit crime?


Just a few but essential aspects of daily life that MasterPo doesn’t see operating nearly as well after your “revolution” is over. It never does after a revolution.

Who will oversee and enforce all these new changes?

So you get all the changes you’re demanding.

Who is going to watch over and ensure on a daily basis business and organizations adhere to the new rules?

You don’t like the way current government oversees things and you don’t like the way current business self-polices. So who do you trust to oversee this brave new world that won’t sooner or later become the same way?

Who is so wise and honorable that you’re going to empower to do this?

And who watches the overseers?

Related to the above, who makes sure the wise and honorable people you have picked remain that way?

Or is protest and “revolution” the new norm of life?

Do you really want to associate yourselves with Greece and Egypt?

Several protesters I chatted with said they are in league with protestors in Greece and Egypt. Seeing how violent and socially disruptive those protests have been are you sure you want to be named in the same sentence as them?

You are known by the company you keep.

If you’re against corporate “greed” then who do you think made money from the sale of the iphones, camcorders and Apple laptops you’re using now?

Someone made good money on it.

Design, development, testing, marketing, manufacturing, sales – a lot of people made a lot of money.

Think about that.

Do you realize there are more middle-class people working in corporations than CEO’s?

Far more middle-class people with incomes well under the 7-figure mark work for corps – as direct employees as well as consultants and 3rd party vendors/suppliers. They will be hurt, especially in the short run, much more than the CEO’s will be.

Do you expect them to support your cause when the Wall Street business relocates to Tennessee and the employee is laid off?

If a corporation doesn’t hire you, where do you expect to find employment?

Be it a “big” business or small one, most people are employees at least for part of their working life.

If you stop “big corporations” where will the jobs come from?

For that matter, who will want to start or grow a business after your revolution?

Who’s going to put their life on the line if people like you can protest them out of business or worse?

What is going happen in a matter of weeks or months when NOTHING happens?

So you’re protesting now with chants and signs and sit ins. Let’s say nothing comes of it. Or at least nothing you want.

Now what are you going to do?
Protest more?
Get violent?
What happens when your “revolution” gets violent?


It’s inevitable. Social revolutions always have at least some element of violence. There has never been a peaceful revolution that tears down a full system and starts all over.

Be careful. The fires you set may turn and consume you as well.

There are many many other questions about this “revolution” and more come up every day. But these are a good start.


Please post answers, if you can.

October 3, 2011

Why Do You Insist On Peeing In My Cheerios?

As of writing this the July 4th holiday is only a few days away. And you know what that means: Someone somewhere must come out with an article, “study”, or press release that impugns and degrades the event. Sure enough, MasterPo wasn’t disappointed.

In case you haven’t yet heard, the hoity-toity Harvard University released a “study” in which they claim that 4th of July celebrations –parades, fireworks, town BBQ’s and concerts etc. – are really just an indoctrination zone for turning children into conservatives and Republicans. Incredible! So the 4th of July isn’t about celebrating the independence of America, it’s about grooming new conservatives and Republicans. So says the vaunted Harvard University.

Really?

REALLY?!

Why is it that year in year out for every major American holiday or American celebration someone must put out something to try to degrade it or minimize the significance?

Starting in the beginning of the year there’s Presidents Day. We used to have George Washington’s birthday then Lincoln’s birthday. But now we have only 1 day. Fine. So now every year someone releases a statement about how the early Presidents like Washington and Jefferson et al were “rich” white men, slave owner, blah-blah-blah.

Then comes Memorial Day. Someone has to protest this or that American military action.

July sees the 4th of July Independence Day. First, there were those who argued it wasn’t independence for the American Indians here when the Europeans came. Bad enough. Now there’s the above mentioned Harvard “study”.

The fall sees Labor Day. Funny how no one slams big unions! But they do find cause to slam big business that hires them!

Halloween has been watered down to the point that in many locations it’s in fact illegal to go trick-or-treating! Kids get dressed up and stand on line in a mall somewhere for a small bag of candy. That’s it. Not to mention all the dire warnings about the sugar and sweeteners in the candy, how ill children can get (as if they are eating the same every day of the year), how much child obesity is a problem, etc etc. Plus there are those who say it is an offense to their religious views! (MasterPo has actually seen signs on doors during Halloween telling kids it’s offensive to ask them for candy.)
Then comes Veteran’s Day. Same slam as Memorial Day.


Thanks Giving is another American Indian protest. And the animal rights wackos cry about the turkeys.

And the crowning event of the year – Christmas! Along with its constant law suits and demonstrations about a tree or nativity scene in a park or along a road etc etc.

(Not to be forgotten but there are also many protests and law suits over Menorahs for Chanukah too. But since Judaism isn’t the main religion of America Jews have been able to avoid much of the same negativity Christians have had to face. At least so far.)

They seem to take off for New Years, probably because it isn’t a uniquely American holiday.

MasterPo gets it. You have issues with these events. Stupid, but OK. Funny how America survived – nay, prospered! – for 235 years holding dear to these holidays and traditions that now must be attacked at every opportunity.

You don’t feel like partaking of the celebration? Fine with MasterPo.

But many other do.

Please stop peeing in my Cheerios.

September 29, 2011

The Postal Blues

(NOTE: The following is a guest post from a reader who wishes not to be identified. Edit for format only.)

It is no secret by now that the U.S. Postal service is deep in the red and getting worse fast!


I share the feelings of surprise others have expressed. Not surprised that it is happening but surprised it has taken this long to become so chronic!

I can speak about this from personal experience. I had worked at the USPS for 4 years – 3 as a letter carrier and 1 as a supervisor – until I just couldn’t stand it anymore. (In fact, after my first two weeks working at the Post Office I bought stock in FedEx and UPS!)

First, let me set the record straight on a few things.

Pundits and commentators lump postal workers in the same category as other unionized people in terms of “generous” pay and benefits. That is simply NOT true!

“Generous” is a matter of perspective. When I started in the USPS starting pay for a letter carrier was about $16/hr. If you live in Bumble Creek, Middle America that might be considered great pay. But if you live in or near a major city like LA or New York it’s not much (about $33,000 a year gross based on 40 hours). It is true that most letter carriers and other postal workers do work a lot of overtime at time-and-a-half but even that raises your pay to only $50,000 or so. Still good for a small town but not for an urban or suburban area. And hardly “generous” in my opinion. Even among the 20-30 year veterans of the Postal Service pay is only about $60,000-$70,000 base pay, perhaps $80,000-$90,000 with generous overtime. Still not bad but not the 6-figure pay often made out to be.

And just the other day I heard a pundit on some TV show describe the Postal pension as “generous”. That’s also NOT true!

In fact, the Postal pension system is very poor by comparison to pensions in other fields like teachers. When I worked at the USPS the first thing HR told us as new hires was NOT to rely solely on the pension! They STRONGLY advised us to contribute to the Thrift Savings plan which is basically a 401k plan. And even with the pension, at the time I worked there, I contributed about 5% to my pension account (it wasn’t 100% “free”).

The medical healthcare plan, disability plan, life insurance plans, etc were decent at best. But far from “generous” and certainly NOT cheap!

Truth where truth is deserved.

But here’s also another bit of inconvenient truth:

The sheer amount of waste, inefficiency, incompetence, slothing/laziness, gross mismanagement, fraud and theft in terms of time and milking the system that I saw as both a letter carrier and a supervisor is criminal!

The employees – letter carriers and clerks – know they basically can’t be fired. So once they pass their probation period they are in for life (the saying was “He’s a 30 year mortgage”). To fire someone was a long drawn out process of reviews, arbitration, reviews, more reviews, negotiation, etc etc. Not that I wanted to see anyone lose their job. But the fear of losing your job is a good motivator.

I saw a person come to work drunk and couldn’t be fired.
I saw a person leave the office without permission and disappear for a week but couldn’t be fired.
I saw a person just not show up at work for over a month and couldn’t be contacted by phone or mail (turned out he was in rehab!) and couldn’t be fired.
I saw a person admit to taking cash from the office petty cash for personal use and not be fired.
I saw a person come to work drunk and threaten to shoot fellow employees and couldn’t be fired.
I saw a guy tell the supervisor he wasn’t coming in the next day because he was working his second job and couldn’t be fired! (Imagine that – telling your boss you’re not coming to work because you have another job to go to!)
I saw a person get injured literally 2 days after completing their probation, get a doctors’ note they can’t perform heavy work, and now had a guaranteed 40 hours a week job with benefits but could barely do any real work!
Any time some new technology or new procedure, no matter how minor, was tried to be introduced people just refused to use it or obey and they couldn’t be fired.

Just a few examples of what I saw…

If you know you can’t be fired why do a good job? Why do the right thing? Why even come to work?

Upper management didn’t support lower management. Not an uncommon complaint among lower and middle managers. But, at least in my district, the Executive-in-Charge was truly a little Napoleon! He loved to make supervisors and Postmasters squirm in meetings and on conference calls. He would think nothing of transferring a supervisor or Postmaster to an office 30-40-50 miles away from their home! He would openly call people “stupid” and “asshole” in front of a wide audience their peers. Definitely not a Dale Carnegie graduate. By the same point, jobs at the district office were granted mostly, not on merit or even seniority, but on nepotism! At least half the people in the district office, especially among the higher level positions, were related to the Executive-in-Charge by either blood or marriage! Totally unethical at a minimum, probably illegal too, in any other business but apparently not at the Post Office.

And the unions, oh boy! The unions went out of their way to protect the real slugs while turning their backs to good workers. It truly did seem that the worse you performed the more the union was there for you while those few who really tried to do a decent job and be a reliable employee were marginalized and ignored by the union (but was still happy to take their pay as dues).

I can remember when the union local rep would come in for an “update” meeting. He’d always say something like this:

“Things are bad. Sales are down. Revenue is down. Don’t expect a lot from the next round of contract negotiations. We can’t promise anything. But thank God you have a union representing you! ‘Cause as bad as it is it would be much worse if we weren’t representing you!”

WTF?! You know the saying “With friends like that who needs enemies”?

In my opinion the USPS well deserves the losses they are taking and then some. No private company, even a unionized one, would survive a month run the same way.

September 25, 2011

The Loss of Dreaming

On a recent installment of the Jerry Doyle radio show (Doyle played head of security Mr. Michael Garibaldi on the wildly successful “Babylon 5” TV show – who knew he was a radio talk show pundit too?!) he discussed the loss of the American dream. Not a new topic. It’s often discussed in the context of is it still attainable, realistic, etc. You can find many websites and blogs that discuss it.

But in this article MasterPo wants to go beyond the usual discussion to a very fundamental problem. And that is, the basic loss of people even dreaming the American dream!

In other words, the American dream cannot be reached when people aren’t even dreaming about the dream anymore!


For several years now MasterPo has been part of a small local group comprised largely of 20-somethings, a few 30-somethings, and even a few late-teen-somethings.

Inevitably the issues of being young and starting out come to a head with drama in the group often dealing with work and earning money. This is where MasterPo is seeing the loss of dreaming the dream.

Universally, not a single one of the teens and 20-30-somethings shows any interest in the American dream! They show no interest in working hard to build a career and professional reputation, establishing a nest egg, putting down roots by buying a home (be it a private house or a condo etc), and just being part of the American community. All they do care about is Xbox, cars, and beer.

Worse, when MasterPo prods them about their hopes and dreams and ambitions for themselves in the future they are as empty as the beer cans after a Friday night! MasterPo doesn’t expect deep philosophical plans about their goals in business or research or even the arts (would be nice though). But these kids aren’t even expressing the generic “Someday when I’m a big business person” or “When I get older and become a successful ” dreams that was expressed at least when MasterPo was in high school (not that many years ago).

Now some readers are going to say that’s “normal” for youngsters.

Really?

If a 20-something can get out of their own responsibilities to themselves (much less to the American social community as an American) because they are a 20-something, at what age does reality kick in? Do you really expect when that 20-something turns 30 they get a birthday card with a reality check in it and say to themselves “I’m 30 now. I better get my tail in gear!”

Doesn’t happen.

Have we as Americans lost the sense of the American dream in less than a generation?!

How can we have a functional, much less successful and growing, America when the youth of today isn’t even dreaming about the dream in between rounds of whatever the latest Xbox game is?

If there is a loss of the American dream it isn’t because the dream is harder to achieve (which it is), but rather because more and more people especially among the youth just aren’t dreaming of the dream!

Dare to dream.

September 21, 2011

MasterPo Agrees with Ron Paul About Healthcare!

MasterPo Agrees with Ron Paul About Healthcare!

It’s no secret that MasterPo isn’t a huge Congressman Ron Paul fan.


While MasterPo does agree on some points like auditing the Federal Reserve, many of Ron Paul’s isolation and international policy views just aren’t real-world.

And in spite of his good stand on several issues he just isn’t electable.
But this article isn’t about what MasterPo doesn’t like about Ron Paul. Instead, it’s about what MasterPo does like about him!


Recently (as of writing this) at a Republican primary debate the moderator Wolf Blitzer posed a hypothetical question to the Congressman (paraphrased):

A 30 year old man who by his own choice has decided not to purchase healthcare insurance suddenly and unexpectedly becomes seriously ill. What should society do for him?

Congressman Paul’s answer in a nut shell: Nothing!

The man made his decision not to purchase healthcare insurance and now must live with the consequences, as extreme as those may be.

MasterPo 100% agrees with the Congressman!

Every action has a consequence. Every non-action has a consequence.

Insurance, as well as other activities of life, is about preparing in advance for things that can happen. No guarantees it will happen but that is why you decide to buy insurance (and other things) because of your own perceived judgment as to whether or not an event is likely to happen. If you deem it a rare or low risk, you do nothing and then have to suffer (yes suffer!) the consequences of not being prepared. Likewise, if you deem it a high chance and you spend the money to prepare but the event doesn’t happen, you don’t get a refund in life.

In this scenario the 30 year old made the conscious decision not to prepare for the possibility of illness (and injury) by not purchasing healthcare insurance. His decision. It is not society’s fault nor is it society’s responsibility to undo his poor decision making. If a private group like a charity wants to help him out that’s fine. But it is not up to society to now step in and catch him from his own bad or even foolish decisions.

If you say it is, then where does it stop?

Your home is robbed or burns down and you don’t have insurance. Does society owe you to replace it?

You had the ability to contribute to a 401k or IRA but didn’t. Spent the money on vacations and partying. Does society now owe you an old age income? (seems Social Security has become that)

And so on.

So where does it stop?
Who pays for it?
Is there enough money in the world to pay for it?


People are responsible for themselves.
Period.

September 17, 2011

Aspirations Of A Dark Suite

Recently MasterPo had yet another very troubling conversation.

At MasterPo’s workplace there is a lunch room with a TV. Typically during the day the TV is set to CNBC or MSNBC for financial news (or Fox for general news). A lot of small/personal investors work in MasterPo’s office.

This morning MasterPo had gone in to check the market. A co-worker comes in and starts to chat about the market. MasterPo asked if the co-work was aware that (as of writing this – it was finally extended late December 2010) it appears Congress is not going to extend the Bush tax cuts. The co-work said he wasn’t aware but it didn’t matter as we are part of the 98% of Americans who earn under $250,000 so we wouldn’t be impacted. MasterPo informed him they aren’t going to extend the tax cuts for anyone regardless of income level! Then added “Don’t you aspire to $250,000 or better?” The co-worker responded “When I get to that level then I will fight for those people.”

This is very sad!

Though, regrettably, not surprising in this day and age when “the rich” (since when was $250,000 “rich” anyway?!) are Public Enemy #1.

There is a saying: Being successful without recognition or reward is like relieving yourself in a dark suite – you get a warm feeling but no one notices.

It may not be everyone’s cup of tea but the quest for increased income and wealth is the motivating inspiration for a large number of people’s willingness for taking on hard work. All well and good to say achievement, production and ‘helping people’ is the goal. But without proportional award that grows as your achievements grow there is nothing to aspire a great many people to in fact be creative and hard working. In that regard Gordon Gecko was right.

MasterPo is sure people are going to comment that doing well and producing is award itself. Definitely the feeling of accomplishment is needed. No one likes to toil away without someone saying “Good job!” at least once in awhile.

But don’t deceive yourself! No one who is honest with themselves is going to willfully seek out the added work, effort, accountability, stress and risk of striving without aspiring to greater and greater income. No one. Anyone who says the work is all that matters to them and not the money, if not already independently wealthy, is either a fool or a liar. Period.

On a greater societal scale it simply is amazing how many people care about the situation of their fellow man solely on the basis of something as superficial as how much money they earn.

Who is one person to say what another person should make?
Is this the America your parents dreamed of?

Thus is born out of the “entitlement society” for if someone has more than you it must be an unnatural imbalance brought by abuse and cheating of others, never by risk and hard work, and you are entitled to a growing share of their pie.

If more people concentrated on building themselves up rather than pulling down someone else we would be so much better off.

September 13, 2011

You Can’t Tax “The Rich” Today As If It Was 50 Years Ago!

Recently on Yahoo Finance’s Daily Ticker (formerly called Tech Ticker, wonder how much they paid a marketing guru for the new name?!) there was an article taking the stand that a weaker Dollar is good for the American economy and the Fed should do QE3 and beyond. MasterPo isn’t going to comment on the shear stupidity of this argument.

But as with many Yahoo Finance articles it is the reader comments that are worth noting. In particular on unnamed person commented in part quote:

“Start trying to balance the budget. Start now. Tax the rich at the rate of 50 years ago.”

Sadly, this isn’t a new idea. It’s a sentiment often expressed.

But, if we’re going to use the tax rates of decades ago let’s be complete.

Yes, taxes on “the rich” were highly 50-60-70 years ago.

But…

There were also significantly more deductions, credits, write-offs, allowances, shelters etc. available too. So the actual amount of income taxed at these higher rates was much less than commonly thought.

Bringing make the tax rates of 50-60-70 years ago but without the same deductions etc. would result in a significant tax increase! And given the levels of income that today is considered “rich” MasterPo is sure quite a few people would get a shock to see now they are taxed as “rich” at these higher levels!

You can’t pull one man up by bringing down another.
Never happens.
Never will.


You end up with two people down.

September 7, 2011

September 11th – 10 Years Later



This 9/11 marks not just another passing year but an anniversary. It’s been 10 years since that fateful day in 2001. MasterPo worked in lower Manhattan off Wall Street at that time. The whole thing unfolded before my eyes. But this day isn’t about MasterPo. It’s about three things:

One – The 3,000 American civilians murdered on that day as they just went about living their daily lives. The mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, and children of older parents all just living their lives. Total defenseless. Even the Japanese on December 7th 1941 had the decency to attack a primarily military target with at least the capability of defense.

Two – Reformation of the undeniable fact that there is evil in the world and that are evil people in the world. There are people who don’t really have a specific goal, a specific destination they want to attain in their actions. That kind of person at least has a chance to discuss issues with. But instead, as Michael Caine’s character of Alfred said in Batman: Dark Knight quote

“Some men can’t be reasoned with, can’t be bought. They just want to see the world burn.”

And similarly, a reformation of the undeniable fact that people like this are coming for us– you, your family, your children, your friends, your co-workers, your favorite TV and sports stars, et al. - as Americans just because we are Americans!

Some may actually believe their God wants them to kill us and will be rewarded for this. That’s hard to defeat with words.

Some may just want to kill and cause mayhem. Too much candy as kids?

But whatever the reasons this aspect of reality simply can not be glossed over with a white-wash of Political Correctness.

Three – Commitment to never ever forget! Almost immediately after 9/11 people began to push that day out of their minds. MasterPo isn’t just referring to the history revisionists and the PC crowd. Quite a few Average Joe’s seemed to forgot very quickly. It may be human nature, the preference of the human mind, not to want to recall unpleasant memories. But when these memories embody all the above and are still very real threats to these very same people who choose to forget that just isn’t sane.

There isn’t anything more to add on this solemn anniversary.

MasterPo leaves you with these videos as thought and honorable remembrance:



















September 5, 2011

Courage: An Open Response to Glenn Beck



“Courage” has been a reoccurring theme of Beck’s for several months now. The courage to take a stand and do the right thing because it is the right thing even when the people around you (or the rest of the world) isn’t. The courage to do what is right even if you personal may pay a price for it (whether it be lose face in front of friends or co-workers, lose your job, lose something of value to you, etc).


During his TV show on Wednesday April 27th Beck showed three disturbingly gruesome videos:


1. A fight between patrons in a diner style restaurant (looks like a Waffle House or an IHOP but didn’t say) over syrup.


2. The beating of a woman in a McDonalds, reportedly because she gave another woman’s boyfriend a look the other woman didn’t like, to the point the victim lays on the floor having convulsions.


3. A man standing on the street outside a store in NYC, someone runs up to him holding a large revolver and shoots him twice point-blank.


Beck’s point is that no one out of all the people watching stepped up and came to the aid of the people involved.


1. In the syrup video patrons continue don with their meals as the melee ensues around them. A few people (employees?) eventually try to break up the fight but only half heartedly even though one of the fighters is clearly having the advantage over the other fighter (not to mention there are children around).


2. In the McDonalds video an employee tries tepidly to break up the fight but doesn’t succeed. When the victim is on the floor quivering with convulsions apparently brought on by the attack (whether the beating caused the seizure or she had an underlying condition already is unknown) no one comes to her help. Though there isn’t much you can do for someone having a seizure at least being there is a comfort.


3. After the man was shot (it was reported as a gang attack but mistaken identity (the wrong person) ) he is seen on the ground trying to get up but can’t. Then stops moving altogether.


Meanwhile people come out of the store to see what happened, see the man on the floor, and just stand around. No one tries to help the victim.


These aren’t entirely new scenarios. Events of people being hurt or victims of crime and no one help have been occurring in America since at least the late 60’s. There was the now famous (if that’s the right word) case of a woman being beaten and stabbed repeatedly over the course of several hours on the streets of a very middle class New York City neighborhood. She cried for help throughout the entire ordeal. Residence heard her cries but just closed their windows. That is considered a turning point.


There is also the famous case in the 70’s of a local news crew who stood by and filmed a man set himself on fire in a street corner in Atlanta yet did nothing. Finally someone came running over with a blanket to smother the flames.


MasterPo agrees with Glenn Beck that “humanity” is being lost in America today. And the trend has clearly accelerated of late.


But there is a reality that Beck needs to accept.


One word: Liability.


We have seen time and time again people trying to help, being Good Samaritans, and in fact helping people and saving lives but then getting arrested themselves! Or at a minimum later being sued for millions$$ by the very person (and/or their family) they tried to help.


In the videos he showed in each case yes someone could and should have stepped up to help. But there is great personal risk, not just of becoming a victim yourself, but of the liability. In the McDonalds video if someone had tried to help the convulsing woman that may have caused additional injuries. In the shooting video, suppose one of the bullets had punctured the man’s spine; If you rolled him over try clear his air way and try to put pressure on the wounds you may injure his spinal cord leading to permanent paralysis. In both cases you may have saved the victim’s life but can now be sued for injuries! “Good Samaritan” laws are only a defense, not a Get-Out-Of-Jail-Free card.


MasterPo acknowledges that is the point of Beck’s argument: To do the right thing even at the risk of personal loss because if we don’t help each other we fall apart as a nation and society.


Nevertheless, when the rubber meets the road it takes a great leap of courage in today’s society to risk all that for someone you don’t know.


Perhaps MasterPo has become the jaded, detached person Beck is railing about.


In MasterPo’s own defense there was one circumstance 10 years ago where MasterPo was present at meeting where high level people in the company were talking ‘smack’ about a co-worker who was killed in the Twin Towers on 9/11. MasterPo was disgusted and outraged! But kept quiet for fear of losing the job. It is a badge of shame MasterPo carries to this day.


To that extent, MasterPo will never be silent again.


September 1, 2011

Gold: A Misunderstood Metal

With the remarkable rise in the price of gold over the last 2 years (as of writing this – in spite of the recent pull back) as well as the apparent uncertainties, even declines, in more traditional icons of American economic prowess the yellow metal has once again come to the forefront of interest by both preppers and individual investors. Add to that the boom in ETFs (Exchange Traded Funds) and it seems like “gold for the masses” is the order of the day. Consequently almost every preparation blog, book, and podcast devotes quite a bit of time discussing the use of gold (and silver) in a SHTF or TEOTWAWKI event.

And most of them get it wrong.

In terms of preparing for an economic disaster they misunderstand the role of gold (and silver) in a preparation plan. In fact, one of the main arguments against buying gold – that being you can’t eat it - is closer to the real understanding of the purpose of the metal in a survival plan.

Trade?
Barter?


Maybe.

But the primary purpose of owning physical gold is not as a “universal currency” for if/when the dollar collapses. MasterPo highly doubt the supermarket will be accepting gold coins for groceries no matter what the American economy does. That is not to say some form of exchange or barter for gold won’t happen. It surely will. But that isn’t the main reason for owning gold.

The primary purpose for having physical gold is as a store of wealth in shaky economic times. Period.

It is true that if some calamity befell the entire world gold would probably be useless compared to more basic human needs like food. But the likelihood of such a worldwide disaster really is low. It would take something like a nuclear war or asteroid hit or other cataclysmic event for such to come to pass. A massive economic reorganization is a far more likely scenario in terms of national or global calamities. And as such, gold (and silver) will still be of value in whatever new currency systems come out from the aftermath.

And it is true that gold can go down just as easily as any other investment. Though to this argument MasterPo asks: For gold to return well below the $1,000/oz level the dollar would need to soar and the economy to grow soooooo much as to be unrealistic. In the longer term maybe. But not today, tomorrow, and not likely next week.

The exact value of that gold after such an economic event is unknown. But it will surely be far more than whatever the prevailing paper fiat currency is (was) just prior to the event. And that is its function: To store wealth for conversion into a more exchangeable form later.

If you are fortunate there may even be an opportunity to grow your wealth through gold ownership in the times of trouble. But that too should be seen as an alternate benefit of owning gold and not the primary reason.

History proves that physical gold is a viable means of storing wealth when transitioning from one economic reality to another. Far better than whatever paper currency is the normal at the time. The gold mined by the ancient Egyptians, Mayans, Greeks etc still holds value today. Even without the historical context, just melted down it has a high value as a metal.

MasterPo is not suggesting you should be selling everything you have and buy gold. Certainly if it’s a matter of paying the mortgage or buying a gold coin, pay the mortgage first! The future is not at all certain, in spite of recent national and global events. But just as you may be compiling stores of personal supplies, a store of gold or silver is important too so long as you understand the main purpose and not have unrealistic expectations of what you are buying it for.

August 26, 2011

Hurricane Irene: Observations From The Front Line

As of writing this Hurricane Irene is forecast to hit Long Island starting mid-day tomorrow (Saturday) and last through at least Sunday evening. MasterPo doesn’t know ifheI’ll have power or internet when it comes, though it is now forecast to be 'only' a tropical storm. No one knows for sure.

Opinion various but the main two forecasts show the storm either coming straight across Long Island, literally right through my front yard! Or, steering a little to the West of New York City but still blowing hard and dumping lots of rain all around.

Mayor Bloomberg has issued a “request” (not mandatory, yet)for evacuation from the lower lying areas of the city. And the state Parks Department has issued a mandatory evacuation for the Fire Island towns. That’s not uncommon even for a nor’easter storm.

And at this moment Southside Hospital in Bay Shore is being evacuated as well as new warnings and urges to evacuate in Nassau County.

Nothing can be done about the weather.

It’s been a very long time since the last hurricane hit New York City and Long Island. We get nor’easters every year and we did get a mini-hurricane two years ago in the sprint (winds about 80 mph with is a Cat 1) though it wasn’t labeled a hurricane.

But this is why you prepare!

MasterPo feels very good about his preparations heading into the storm. Sure MasterPo could have/should have done more. But nothing MasterPo can do about it now.

But by comparison to others MasterPo is waaaaaaay a head of the curve!

MasterPo went to Costco yesterday at noon to get a few last minute items. It was a zoo. Not unruly but very crowded.

No ‘D’ batteries.
No paper towels.
No TP.
And no generators.


(Side note: To the point of inflation, a cut of meat Costco sells called “flap meat” started as a cheap cut but now is $6.29/pound!! Even London Broil was only $3.99/pound!)

To the latter, MasterPo overheard two guys arguing with a store employee about why don’t they have any generators! The employee said they might get a few tomorrow (today) but can’t guarantee it. The two guys were very angry. Idiots! What the heck did they expect two days before a hurricane? Why didn’t they buy a genie months or even years ago?

That reason is simple: Long Islander haven’t had the need for one for the most part in years.

MasterPo doesn’t blame people either. MasterPo doesn’t have a generator. That’s a debate MasterPo and Mrs. MasterPo have had for many years. It’s true that a good sized genie is expensive. Then there’s the cost and issues of storage of fuel. There is OPSEC to consider. And the practical consideration of having a unit large enough for basic needs (refrigerator, freezer, heat etc) yet not be a monster unit.

That evening MasterPo stopped at a local supermarket on the way home. Milk was almost gone as were eggs, OJ and cheese. About half the produce was gone and what was left was in poor shape. Bread, meat and canned goods were still plentiful though.

Moving on…

Spoke to a friend this morning. She said she tried to go to the supermarket yesterday for supplies. Couldn’t find any bottled water or flashlights. Then she asked what kind of supplies she should get.

No clue!

MasterPo told her canned soup, fruits and veggies, chicken and tuna. She thought that was a great idea. IMasterPoalso told her to fill up on gas and get some extra cash from the bank. She hadn’t even thought about that!

At work today a co-worker said she went to the local Target store yesterday. They were out of bottled water, flash lights and ‘D’ batteries too. Then she went to the local Ace Hardware. The line was out the door. She didn’t even bother trying to go in.

And a manager MasterPo works with has to rush around today to get his car’s tire patched instead of taking care of it weeks ago.

MasterPo just went to the Radio Shack near my office. They were out of all the crank style emergency radios. I did get a small AM/FM. I have a marine radio that gets NOAA so that should be good enough for now. But they still did have ‘D’ batteries.

Well, this is going to be interesting. At a minimum it will be a good test of MasterPo's preparation.

So far MasterPo thinks he is doing very well. MasterPo is short in the areas he knows about anyway and those that for family issues (i.e. Mrs. MasterPo) are a tough sell. But everything else seems to be falling into place well. MasterPo is very proud of his work on this and hope none is necessary.

See you on the other side.