Thursday, October 21, 2010


These are some numbers that are important to me lately…

The number of diapers we are now down to, per day. I had all these grandiose plans about having Roz potty-trained by the time she was two. I was potty trained early, and as the months went on I got more & more tired of washing diapers. But, it just wasn't happening that early with Roz, for whatever reason. We read lots about potty training, from the stoner ("it'll happen in its own time") to the feral ("let 'em run around naked and encourage them to pee outside"). One thing that really resonated with us was a concept that linked potty training with emotions. To wit: kids can't really control their waste until they learn about their own emotional state. And, lo & behold, as Roz sort of "came online" with her emotions (and her ability to label them), potty training took off. We had one accident on Tuesday, but that was the first in…oh, must be weeks & weeks. She's in underpants full-time now, even at school, except for naptime and nighttime. And even then, the nap diaper is usually dry, and even a few of the overnight ones have been as well recently. YESSS!!!!

The amount, in cents, that Mom & I found with the metal detector at our local park. This goes back to the treasure-hunting post of several weeks ago, but since that time I saw a guy in the park running HIS detector, and of course we treasure-hunters have a secret "code" that lets us recognize one another, so we chatted for awhile and then I wished him luck while Roz & I went to get dizzy on the tornado slide. He came over after awhile to show me a Buffalo nickel he'd scrounged out of the dirt. Dateless, to be sure, but still: that's not a bad find at a meager 2" under the dirt. So, Mom & I went around for a couple of hours last weekend. We found 37¢ worth of "new" change, 4 wheat cents, and a bullet. ("A bullet?!? *bam!* A bullet?!? *bam!* It's the part that gets me the hottest!" --thanks, Frank.) The wheaties were a mix of dates: '24 being the oldest, then a '37-D, and then a couple from the fifties. Still: fun.

The amount, in miles, registered on my car's odometer when I pulled into the garage on Tuesday. I drive a 2003 Vibe, and it's the shit. I get regular oil changes, tire rotations, and radiator flushes (this, after rotting out the radiator on my Tracker). I pay $500 every so often for the 30,000 mile service (but not every 30k, that's for sure!), and I fix what needs fixing. That means I've replaced the brakes several times, ditto tires, and also the front & rear bearings on the driver's side. That's it. It's been paid for since 2006, and while I probably won't go ANOTHER 200,000 miles…I'll go until the car falls apart.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

How It All Begins

As I've posted earlier on CF, stuff costs money. That's true whether you're an individual, a family, a city, state, or country. Shit…just costs money. I mean, sure, you could posit some Randian valley, a utopia where everyone lives and contributes and trades in kind: my composition for your canned vegetables. But, really, most of us don't/can't live that way. We work, and for our work we're paid, and with our pay we buy shit.

So. When money runs out? You stop buying stuff. And when so little money comes in that you not only can't buy stuff, but can't meet your regular financial obligations? Well then, my friend, you are. In a world. Of shit. Such is the case with a local township here where I live. Turns out, they're broke. According to a news article this week, in September the township board had to decide which bills to pay and "which ones would have to wait" (translation: which ones to default on), and there won't be any money coming in until winter taxes are paid. The township supervisor ACTUALLY SAID "We knew this was coming…we just didn't expect it so soon."

And I believe this is how it all begins: with little warnings, and smaller entities going broke, until the whole shebang snowballs and pretty soon EVERYONE is broke, and then? We're ALL. In a world. Of shit. I mean, that's how creepy movies always start, right? Shaun of the Dead, The Day After, The Birds…there's always some little thing happening in the background that our main characters aren't really paying attention to…and then *BAM!* they're right in the thick of it. This is how our current house of cards is going to crumble: one village, one city, one township at a time, first just being reported in the local news, then the occasional national story, and eventually it'll be Chicago. Or New York. Or America, defaulting on its bills.

Or, we need to up our income. When you're a person, if you find yourself falling behind on bills, you increase your income, right? You find something. You eBay some shit, or you sell plasma, or you get handyman work doing drywall or painting or something. You teach lessons, mow some lawns, try to find a part-time job. But, you get it done. Or at least bust your ass tryin'. What does a township do? Well, in this case, the township in question is putting a 2-mill ballot proposal on the upcoming election. The news is very, very careful not to call this a tax increase. Nowhere in the article are those words used together. But…that's what it is. Just 'cause you don't call a thing "a thing," doesn't mean that it ain't. A sparrow is a sparrow, whether you call it a "songbird" or whatever else.

The article goes on to state that a board member warned of this insolvency back in 2005, stressing the "dire situation" during her "remaining time on the board" (translation: when she was voted out of office for spreading those nasty Rome-buring rumors), but the situation "just kept getting worse." Yes, folks, that's what happens when you ignore problems: they generally just keep getting worse. Oh, I suppose you could ignore a cold and it'll fix itself, but I've never seen a flat tire spontaneously fill with air. Cancer, once detected, doesn't go away on its own. And peeling paint never manages to miraculously reattach itself to the house. You need to TAKE CARE of these problems, before the solution is so wretched that it's nearly as bad as the apathy.

I think we're there. I think we've ignored financial problems in this country for so long, we're at that point where the solution is undigestible, and there's a certain inevitability with our apathy. Do nothing: maybe it'll go away. Cut spending: until all that's left are the un-cuttable obligations, and then pretty soon you can't meet them either. This is the end result of the empty promise of infinite tax cuts: pretty soon, you don't have enough money for even the things that MUST be paid for. We're there. At least in this local township, we're. There. You can blame some bad decisions, but announcing that blame is Monday-morning quarterbacking at its worst. Can't be fixed now; move on. Try not to make the same mistake again; but MOVE. ON.

I wonder…what will the end look like? I'm actually quite fascinated. Like watching a horrible car crash happen…in slow motion. The thing that could most easily have been prevented…playing out with a gruesome inevitability. Me? I'll fiddle.

Monday, October 11, 2010

I Want This! Aaannd…THAT!

Read a hilarious news article today about Social Security recipients not receiving their COLA again this year. This will make two years in a row now that SS recips do not receive a Cost Of Living Adjustment because - ta daaa! - there's no inflation. Which, by raw numbers, turns out to be true. Since the COLA was adopted in…what was it, '74? '75?…inflation, even a tiny bit, has been steadily rising, so for 35 years now SS recips have gotten used to an "annual raise." But, even though most of us are finding that our dollars are being stretched to see-through lengths, there isn't a "real" rise in inflation this year (compared to 2008, which is what it would have to beat); so, no COLA.

This is GREAT news, because of course that means we're finally getting a handle on that pesky deficit, as well as reining in that 64% of fuckin' freeloaders for whom their monthly SS check is a primary income source. I think we're well on the way to eliminating SS altogether, which is the fiscally responsible thing to do, as well as a great boon in shrinking a bloated government. Yes, by all means: let's get rid of SS, and get the damn gub'mint outta my wallet!

Of course, almost no one sees it this way. People who are so dimwitted they are outshone intellectually by Edison's first light bulb scream on the one hand that government is spending too much, we need to cut back, yadda yadda. Then, on the other hand, they scream about not getting "what's rightfully theirs." These lackluster dipshits like to blame Congress, the President, the IRS, everyone they can point a finger at for all their ills. "Impeach Obama, he's a socialist!" So, when there's no COLA for SS recips this year? Here are some actual comments from the news article:

"I'll now be sure to vote for Obama and the rest of the Dem's controlling our government. Yep! Anyone who votes for these socialists is either a minority or an idiot. Which are you?" (Uh…I'm the idiot that recognizes lowering or eliminating SS is ANTI-SOCIALIST, you nitwit!)

"stay mad freedom from this socialism in nov." (Again: isn't this exactly what you wanted? LESS social spending??)

"dear pres. obama, please advise me, how I can stay warm, when they shut off my electricity this winter, thank you, a soc. sec. receipient!" (That's easy: energy costs have dropped after a spike in 2008. If you could afford electricity then, you can afford it now.)

"More housing foreclosers on our seniors coming up - thanks to Obama! Granny's being tossed onto the street, eating dog and with no meds courtesy of the Messiah!!" (As to the whole "Messiah" thing…no comment, numbnuts. But, this is what you wanted, right? You wanted less gov't in your life? Then why don't YOU take care of your fuckin' granny?)

And so forth. Obviously I'm picking and choosing from the comments, but the whole thing is a laugh-riot because it seems that the selfsame folks who want a balanced budget and a turning-back of some "socialist tide" are now pissy because they're getting exactly that: no new spending on SS raises this year, and less socialist interference in their retirement. But nooooo…some people gotta have it both ways. *BZZZZZZT* Sorry, can't happen, thanks for playing, we have some lovely prizes including the home edition of "Which Fuckin' Way Do You Want It?".

Enough of a double-standard. One standard is enough, thanks. Pick a side: if you want your SS check, you believe in the social benefits offered in this country. If you claim you want the check, but only because you were forced to pay in, that's fine too: but, be happy that the administration isn't paying out unnecessary funds. If you don't want the check, and don't pay into the SS system, great: that's still a money savings. Just pick a side, and then stay put.