Friday, October 10, 2008

Movie Quote

You fell victim to one of the classic blunders! The most famous is never get involved in a land war in Asia, but only slightly less well-known is this: never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line!

Friday, October 3, 2008

The Credit Crunch and the AIG Bailout

I don't own a house. I can't afford a house. Sure, I can afford a mortgage - my mortgage broker says so. But, I'm smart enough to know that I can't afford as much of a mortgage as my mortgage broker tells me. I also know, that when I say I can afford a mortgage it means, " long as nothing ever breaks and has to be repaired or replaced."
What I mean is that I don't have enough cash to pay a mortgage and have a cushion for things like food, doctors, broken refrigerators, cracked foundations, flood damage, or any other catastrophic force majeur. I don't earn enough to save that kind of cash either.
That's exactly why I don't have a mortgage... but now I have to pay some one else's mortgage. My hard earned tax dollars aren't paying for nuclear weapons systems or local parks. My tax dollars are paying for the mortgage of someone with my budgetary constraints who said:

Oh Sh!t... I can't afford my mortgage. I didn't think lying about my income would cause such a problem. The mortgage broker said it would be OK.
I knew I had an ARM, and I knew it would adjust up, but I didn't know it would adjust so high - even though the mortgage contract said it could... and I didn't think the first five years would go by so fast. I thought it was a problem I could keep putting off.

Dear Uncle Sam - Can you help me? I don't want to lose my house. That might teach me to be more frugal in the future - hell, I might even read stuff before I sign it. But, that's not fair. Instead, I want other tax payers who were smart enough to stay away from this kind of problem to foot the bill for me.

My tax dollars are also making me into an unwilling customer of AIG. Until tonight, I hadn't been an AIG customer. Sure, I thought about it. When I shopped for car insurance, they had decent rates. But, their customer service was crap. I couldn't get anyone to answer the questions I had and one customer service rep even flatly stated, "whatever" and hung up the phone.
I chose to be a State Farm customer (mostly because of how well my wife was treated by her agent after an auto accident). And, it seems that plenty of other people felt that AIG was not a good choice for their insurance needs (that's why State Farm and GEICO are both still in business without a government bailout).
But, Uncle Sam said, "Gee, I'm sorry that you can't attract customers. There's no need to improve the quality of service... how about if I write you a check for $700 billion dollars? Will that help?"
So now I'm paying your mortgage, and living in an apartment. And, I'm paying State Farm for auto insurance and customer service, but I'm also paying AIG - and they won't pay me if my car catches fire... and their customer service still stinks.
I'm just glad I don't work for the Dallas Independant School District or the State of California. Although, they'll both probably get bailouts, too.
What forms do I have to fill out to get my bailout? I don't need $700 billion like AIG, $7 billion like Arnold, or even $84 million like DISD. I just need a cool million.

That would suit me right down to the ground.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Alumni Support

Below is the letter I wrote to the President of my college regarding the recent termination of a beloved religion professor...

Dr. p

I was stunned and appalled to read comments from fellow alumni, fraternity brothers, and from x indicating that he had been deemed a dangerous, aggressive, or abusive person and subsequently dismissed from the x College faculty.

I have not been in contact with x since my graduation in May of x, but the four years I spent on campus and in class with x were spent with a loving and caring professor. Dangerous, aggressive, and abusive would not have been appropriate words to describe the man I knew.
I understand that you must be receiving messages like this from hundreds of students and alumni that would be willing to attest to x's caring and loving demeanor. If that is what is needed, I would be more than willing to write, call, or visit the campus to share my testimony.
My concern, however, is not that there is a lack of support for x. In fact - I suspect that the opposite is true.

Instead, I am concerned with what appears to be a lack of disclosure about the issue. X's comments have indicated that documents regarding the investigation into this matter have large sections or important information that has been blacked-out or with-held.
I understand the desire to protect the identities of students or faculty that may have made complaints; but when the issue involves termination of a tenured professor who has more than a decade of service, the investigation should be thorough, solid, and completely transparent.

I have the highest respect for you, Dr. p. My freshman year at x College was your first year as President. I have always felt that you strive to provide the highest education standards as well as a lively and productive campus environment. I'm angered as my conscience tries to process this situation and my mind tries to determine which side is right in a matter of which I have little knowledge.

The intent of this letter is to offer my plea that you take a personal interest in this case and ensure that the correct action is taken on the part of x College. Since I have little knowledge of the situation and no access to the complaints or investigation notes, it would be presumptuous of me to advise or direct you as to a course of action. I have no envy for the situation you are in. My sense is that you have a love for x College that - much like my own - will remain with you long after you leave campus.
If you are personally involved with this issue I trust that you will have done everything in your power to ensure that the right course of action was taken. I pray that you will be able to look back on this situation and feel the same.

My prayers are with the x family in what must be one of the most difficult times in their lives. Dr. p, I also pray that God guides your hand and provides for the best outcome for the x family and the x College community.
If there is anything I can do to provide my support for x, for you, or for x College please, don't hesitate to call on me.