Thursday, February 26, 2009

Writer's Block is Temporarily Suspended

The world has not been making much sense to me lately.

A good friend from the ambulance corps - a very talented and gentle man in his prime - has got sick. I feel powerless and sad. I believe God seldom intervenes in the world, but there are times when I sure do pray for some special consideration.

The economy is really in a mess. The big problem is that so many people are so much "poorer" than they were a year ago. It's not real estate price declines in most places; its the value of long term savings. My IRA is down more than the value of the home I live in. Who can expect me to run around buying stuff? It doesn't matter that the economy won't recover unless people like me start making purchases again. It's a vicious spiral.

More and more investment cheats are being surfaced. Madoff, Stanford Financial, and others. Don't ever forget that our conservative Republican friends thought regulation was bad for business! What they meant was that regulation was bad for their cheating buddies. I can't wait to see who shows up on the list of tax cheats provided by UBS, the Swiss bank of choice for cheaters. Somebody needs to check their party registrations.

I don't want to get started on the bankers and investment brokers. Many of them should be in jail. Yet we still have lots of healthy smaller banks in Western New York...banks where the managers actually had some integrity. Perhaps those guys and gals should be promoted and the Big Apple wise guys given pushbrooms on the night shift and hovels to sleep in during the day.

It's Lent. Time for more ardent prayer and more intentional self-denial. You know, we humans have really not been too bright about managing our society. The world could be a lot better if we paid more attention to the tenets of our faiths and less attention to figuring out new ways to kill each other or get each other's stuff. There would be more than enough for everyone if we got our act together. Unfortunately, the Bible doesn't seem to think we ever will. We can chat more about this, some day on the other side.

In spite of all the bad news, I have to keep remembering that life here in U.S. is still pretty good, relatively speaking. Let's share our blessings and enjoy the things money can't buy.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

NY Unions Emulate GM - State May Fail Soon

The public employee unions in New York are following in the footsteps of the UAW. In past years, when New York had plenty of money, these unions won virtually guaranteed employment, fat guaranteed pensions, and healthcare, to say nothing of salaries competitive with or better than private industry. And, New York has more state employees per capita than almost all other states. What a deal!

Now, when New York is on the verge of financial collapse and private industry is on its heels, the unions have a simple answer to the governor's request for some givebacks - "get lost!". Soon many of these selfish brats may be following the UAW's footsteps down the unemployment line, which may be the best gift our state could get from the recession.

Unions are great organizations when they fight for employee rights and correct injustices. However, once in power they become as self-centered and corrupt as those they were formed to fight. It's clear that "big labor" in New York feels the state exists for the benefit of public employees rather than the opposite. Consequently, our taxes are sky-high and industry has no incentive to locate in our state. People are moving south in droves to escape the high taxes caused largely by having too many state employees who make too much money.

It appears the only way for New York's government to regain control over its employees is to declare bankruptcy, just like GM is likely to do before long. This will allow the state to re-open all its labor contracts and pension obligations. A sad end for a storied labor movement that has outgrown its usefulness.