Wednesday, May 26, 2010

How's That Wealth Redistribution Working Out?

What we all knew, this time from that bastion of investigative news reporting, USA Today:
Paychecks from private business shrank to their smallest share of personal income in U.S. history during the first quarter of this year.

At the same time, government-provided benefits — from Social Security, unemployment insurance, food stamps and other programs — rose to a record high during the first three months of 2010.
It started almost 100 years ago, was hurried along by the New Deal and Great Society. It did not falter during subsequent Democrat and Republican administrations. It has ramped back up to a level unforeseen with Hope and Change.

Greece is the bright yellow canary; Europe a dull yellow; America under the guise of progressivism, is beginning to show her color.

Robinhoodism only works for the poor, because they have nothing, but once they have something, stifles. It does not motivate a society to greater achievements.

The more people on the "government payrolls," however you want to define that, means more votes for those that keep the crumbs coming. And that's all that is being doled out.

Wealth redistribution on the scale we have witnessed in Europe and what we are beginning to see in America, is a sad day for all. The poor are happy to stay poor so long as they have the minimum. Those trying to achieve have an uphill climb, not by competitive forces (which are ominous enough) but by stifling laws, processes and taxes.

How does the White House and congress respond? By more Keynesian "stimulus" with money that does not exist. Tell me, how will we ever pull ourselves out of this hole that continues to be deepened by the one who offers no hope and no prospect for meaningful change?

Friday, May 21, 2010

Synthetic Cells

UK scientists have achieved another breakthrough: the creation of synthetic cells. It is amazing what those that dare to push the scientific extremes can do.

There will be plenty of people that will come out against this. I am not one of them. Like most leaps forward, there are positives and negatives to consider.

The hope is to be able to produce cells that will aid in medical treatments, produce new fuels, and deal with environmental pollutions like greenhouse gases and oil spills. But one cannot think about the creation of some biological entity that might be difficult to control (Hollywood and sci-fi have addressed this adequately).

A scripture comes to mind as I contemplate the spiritual ramifications:
And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew. For I, the Lord God, created all things, of which I have spoken, spiritually, before they were naturally upon the face of the earth.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Obama's True Colors with Calderón AZ Imigration Law

What President Obama allowed to happen today, and in which he was party to, infuriates me to no end.

Mexican President Felipe Calderón came to the USA as our guest and criticized the "new" AZ anti-immigration law. Obama was complicate with him agreeing that he was looking at its Constitutionality.

Mexican's illegal immigration laws are much stricter than America's. What they do is nothing compared what our federal laws state (but which are lightly enforced). Mexican immigration laws included the following provisions:

-- must speak the native language
-- must be a professional or an investor, not unskilled
-- there are no bilingual programs sponsored by government
-- foreigners will never have the right to vote or hold political office
-- foreigners will not be given welfare, health care, or government assistance
-- foreigners may not protest
-- illegals will go to jail for multi-year stints (Mexican jails are nice)

Calderón only wants the remittances and what they do for his governmental programs. Calderón is not a true friend of America. He is only looking out for his selfish interests. Obama is complacent. Immigration is a red herring for both of these politicians.

I disliked Obama's politics from day one. Now I can say I am starting to dislike him personally. A person that will not defend his fellow-countrymen, lacks spine. If a Republican were President, Calderón would not have said what he said.

Obama is now officially a sell-out. He's a spineless, American-hating, self-promoting demagogue. How a man like that can bear the title of Commander In Chief is beyond me. He has and continues to disgrace the office.

Another sad day for America and for me.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Arizona's New 1 Cent Tax...Ultimate Scam

Today, the Arizona voters approved a "temporary" one-cent increase in state sales tax. Proposition 100, the only thing on the ballot had at its intent to raise ~$1 billion a year for the next three years. Most voters voted for it thinking that if they didn't the public schools would suffer.

The YES votes were two to one over the NO votes. I voted NO.

In Tucson, where I live, we will now pay 9.1% sales tax.

Government, regardless of which party's in power, will find a way to spend money. They will never have enough. The AZ state government, like every single state in the USA, takes in too much money. In every state, they misappropriate it.

Big government, the core to conservative politics, is bad. This new tax does nothing to quell the size of government. Just the opposite. In three years, the budget will still be a disaster. AZ schools will still be some of the worst in the nation. The cuts they should be making now -- in fact years ago -- will still be un-addressed.

Governor Jan Brewer's true colors came out on this new tax that she championed. On one hand, she is getting kudos for her anti-immigration stance (and I applaud her for that), but on the other, she has made THE core mistake of modern government: RAISE TAXES.

The national talking heads -- the conservative ones that want her to appear on their programs -- had better address both sides of her politics.

There are core stances a conservative MUST take. No new taxes is at the very top. In fact, a true conservative will figure out how to shrink government. Governor Brewer failed the test.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Aiding and Abetting

I know for a fact I helped aid and abet an alcoholic this afternoon. Here's the sad story.

For the past few months, after taking a new job in a new city and coming six months ahead of my family not wanting to interrupt the school year, I rented a room in a suburban home. It is actually a very good deal financially, convenient to work, and the conditions are more than acceptable. The lady that owns the house did so so she would not lose her home. She rents three rooms to help her cover her mortgage.

She currently has two vacancies. She literally saw a man laying on the sidewalk outside a grocery store. She asked him if he needed a place to live. As "luck" would have it, he did. The house he and his wife live in is getting repossessed. They also did not pay the electric bill for a few months and the electric company turned off the power. He agreed to her weekly rate, paid her. They moved in -- they being the key word.

On the first night, about 1 am, he started making all kinds of noise and creating a ruckus. He was drunk. The owner came in, told them they were out, right then and there. Her will was greater than his. She put them in her car and drove them to their powerless home and dropped them off. She thought that was the end of her "Good Samaritan" foray.

They came back around late the following day wanting their money back. She said "no;" said she spent it. She offered to drive them around to help pay it back.

In the mean time, they have a house full of crap that they want to sell before the bank takes it over. They asked the land-lady to manage a garage sale for them for 50% of the proceeds. She agreed, provided she got to handle all the cash. They agreed.

I got to drop by for a pre-sale look. Turns out the lady was recently widowed. She had a nervous breakdown shortly after his death, spending some time in a mental facility. That's where she met her new husband. He's an alcoholic. Both are on government welfare -- she gets $1200/mo and he gets $800. It all goes to alcohol, cigarettes, and fast food.

I was not interested in the smoke-reeking household items. But it turns out the lady's first husband had some tools. I was able to buy a few hand and power tools (including a Dremel set), a 3-pack of never-opened leather gloves, and a 4 in 1 Gorilla ladder. I will not tell you what I paid, but it was about 1/20th of what they would go for new.

That money was divided between the two parties, he got his cut. He asked for a ride to the grocery store. The store is about a mile from his house and he has no car.

I knew perfectly well what he was going to do with that money. He had it for less than 5 minutes and it went straight to beer and smokes.

He mentioned, on the ride over, that he hopes Obama can help them out so he and his wife can stay in their home (her home). He could never be considered one of society's finest, although he said he did serve six years as a Marine, but he knows how to work the welfare system for his benefit. To him, it is an entitlement.

Because he has the right to vote, there's only one party he votes for. He's smart enough to know where his free lunch comes from. Obama and those like him are their "guys."

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Mt. Wrightson, Santa Rita Mountains

If you want to do one hike in the greater Tucson area, Mt. Wrightson would be my recommendation. The 9453 foot peak is in the heart of the Santa Rita Mountains, in the Coronado National Forest, about 30 miles south of Tucson.

The trail head begins at the end of the lovely Madera Canyon road at around 5400 feet. There are two trail options according to the guidebooks and maps. There is really only one you'll want to take if your target is Mt. Wrightson -- Old Baldy Trail. The Super Trail 134 will get you there but over twice the distance. The climbing is more gradual until Baldy Saddle, and at that point, they join for the last 0.9 mile to the summit. The scenery is about the same.

The trail is the best maintained trail I have ever hiked over to a peak of this elevation. It is a strenuous hike with plenty of switchbacks. It is a very clean trail -- I did not see a single piece of trash. It is not overly rocky either. On the negative side, I did see lots of people. If isolation is your goal, this hike is not the one. Not only are there plenty of hikers, there are plenty of runners. One guy told me that someone has a record of running the 10.5 mile up/down 6x in one day (during the daylight hours). I spoke with one runner -- three times. He started with me at around 6:40am and he was beginning his second assent. He passed me on my way up as he was coming down. He passed me again as I was coming down and he was on his third assent. He said he was going for four round trips today. A bit on the obsessive side, but more power to him and those like him.

For the average hiker, it will take you three hours to get up and two to get down. My time was a little longer because I took the Super Trail down at Josephine Saddle to see if it was worth it. It wasn't, just added two extra miles.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Fannie & Freddie...Toxic Twins Continue to Hemorrhage

Something needs to be done about the massive money pit known as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. To date, they have consumed $145 billion with nothing to show for it. The money pit is looking bottomless.

McCain proposed an amendment to the Senate's financial bill that would shrink Fannie and Freddie, raise their underwriting and capital standards, cap their losses, and hold them accountable to the point of shutting them down if they continue to demonstrate financial incompetence.

Dodd, the Senate Banking Chairman said, "not now." And like every useless Senator, he suggested that Treasury conduct a study.

Fannie and Freddie should have the mantle of too-big-to-fail removed immediately. The senior management should be brought up on financial mismanagement and corruption charges, just like CEOs of public companies have have experienced. (What more public are Fannie and Freddie?)

The McCain amendment failed, of course. Financial reform has also failed.

Connecticut, do us all a favor, next time Dodd runs for re-election, defeat him. He personifies what is wrong in Washington.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Perfect Game...Very Rare

27 up; 27 down. No hits, no walks, no hit-by-pitch, no reached-on-error, no reached-on-dropped-ball-following-third-strike. That is a perfect game.

Dallas Braden threw a perfect game beating the Tampa Bay Ray 4-0 in Oakland. That was only the 19th perfect game in major league history, the 17th in the modern era (not in the 1800s). He did it with 109 pitches, 77 of those were strikes. He only had 6 strikeouts. He did it in front of only 12,228 fans.

For us baseball fans, we appreciate perfection, even if only for a day.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Miller Peak - Huachuca Mountains

This morning, I hiked to the top of Miller Peak, the highest peak in the Huachuca Mountains. They are southwest of Sierra Vista, AZ, about 80-90 miles from Tucson. I began my hike at the Montezuma Pass at around 6500 feet of elevation. The parking lot there is a small technology base for the US Border Patrol. The hike to the top is around 5.5 miles. It climbs about 3000 feet. The trail is not bad, never overly steep, and not as rocky as many mountain trails.

Although the elevation is high, about 2/3s of the hike is exposed to the sun. The final part of the hike takes place in the trees and on the northern slope. Lots of oak (silverleaf and Gambel), manzanita, juniper, but at the higher elevations you hike through Douglas fir, limber pine and aspen. There is no water along the route; today, there was still some patches of snow. The 11 mile hike took me around 5 hours.

One disturbing aspect of this hike is the large amount of trash left by illegal immigrants. They use the Crest Trail to by-pass the lower elevation checkpoints and drop into "safe-houses" in the Ft. Huachuca area. They toss all of their bottles, bags, wrappers, cans, toilet paper, pants, shoes, shirts, etc. (see below). I passed two Border Patrol agents on my decent; they were heading up. We had a good chat. They were in uniforms and armed with Glocks and M-16s.

On my drive home, I drove northwest on route 83 -- 15 miles of it on a non-maintained section of the road. I passed a few Border Patrol trucks. I even passed a middle-aged Mexican and a young girl, about 14 years old. They were a long way from anywhere, no backpacks, a 20 oz bottle of water, and walking straight toward the Border Patrol.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Socialism Runs Amok in Greece

When over half of the people of a nation derive their welfare from the state -- civil servants, pensioners, freeloaders -- and that safety net is removed or is less lucrative, tempers flare.

We see this all over the world, people working for 30 years (sometime less) for the government, retire at 50 and get gobs of money and benefits for the rest of their lives. These people, almost everyone of of them, feel they are entitled to these funds. On the other side, Greece is one of the massively corrupt nations in Europe.

It was easy to anticipate Greeks riots. The austerity program mandated by the IMF and EU in exchange for the $143 billion bailout loan will be painful for most Greeks.

If I were the IMF and EU, I would seriously rethink that loan. Actually, it is doubtful that the Greek parliament will approve it.

Greece is the canary in the mine for all of Europe. It is not too big or important to fail, and fail it just might do so ... completely.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Los Suns Están Muertos Para Mí

The Phoenix Suns wear their Los Suns jerseys on occasion, mainly as a marketing gimmick. I guess they think more Hispanics will like them because of these jerseys (or at least buy them). Today's antics went from gimmick to political statement.

It is reasonable for private businesses to make a call on how much Hispanic culture and Spanish language to include in their product offering. However, they walk the fine line between gaining new fans and ostracizing the regulars; but it is their call.

Suns owner Robert Sarver went out of his way today to knock Arizona's new immigration enforcement law (Senate Bill 1070). When a league or franchise decides to get political and that political message goes against my political stance, then I respond with my wallet. Hence, for this time moving forward, I will no longer watch the Suns, attend their games, or buy their gear. Los Suns están muertos para mí.

We have an illegal immigration problem. The problem is Hispanic in nature.

-- Billions each year are spent on welfare to illegal immigrants each year by state governments.
-- Billions each year are spent on food assistance programs for illegal immigrants.
-- Billions each year are spent on Medicaid for illegal immigrants.
-- Billions each year are spent on primary and secondary school education for children here illegally; many cannot speak English.
-- Billions each year are spent on the education of American-born children of illegal immigrants (anchor babies).
-- Billions each year are spent to incarcerate illegal immigrants; 30% of all federal prison inmates are illegal immigrants.
-- Billions each year are suppressed in American wages because of illegal immigrants.
-- Illegal immigrants have a crime rate that's 2.5x that of legal immigrants.
-- Illegal immigrants send home tens of billions annually in remittances to their countries of origin.

Do those new-found Arizona-haters think that the police are going to spend all of their working hours trying to find and turn over to the feds those here illegally? They do not have time nor the resources to do this. The response to this bill is misguided. Probable cause is the rule, not Gestapo procedures as most are thinking.

As a nation, we welcome legal immigrants from all over the world. But when it comes to illegal immigrants, turning a blind eye, as the federal government has done for years, is not the answer, rather the problem.

If you want to boycott Arizona because you think we are prejudice, so be it. But we live here and we are on the front lines in the border war. It is doubtful that this law will make much of a dent. However it does reemphasize that states rights trump federal rights in almost every case.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Border Wars Taking Place Deep Inside America

It has been more than interesting to see and hear the reactions to Arizona Senate Bill 1070:
The legislature finds that there is a compelling interest in the cooperative enforcement of federal immigration laws throughout all of Arizona. The legislature declares that the intent of this act is to make attrition through enforcement the public policy of all state and local government agencies in Arizona. The provisions of this act are intended to work together to discourage and deter the unlawful entry and presence of aliens and economic activity by persons unlawfully present in the United States.
We talk about it at work, at play and in the family. Despite overwhelming support for the belief that we need to control out borders and eliminate the illegal immigrate problem, the minority are getting the louder voice.

I was listening to NPR's Maria Hinojosa political diatribe on Latino rights they call Latino USA. I can barely tolerate her politics and interviewing techniques, but the other side of the story is worth hearing. She spent the week in Phoenix drumming up support for her anti-1070 fodder. This weekend's program was spent airing the exceptions and not dealing with the real problem.

-- A Latino-American man who served in the U.S. military is married to an illegal immigrant from Mexico. He has two children, she has two and together they have two. They were all teary-eyed over the possibility of her being deported. The host did not delve into the issue of getting her plight of getting legal. She is married to a U.S. citizen; this should not be an issue and if it is, there's a fit to a problem everyone would support.

-- A small group of college-aged students, presumably of Hispanic backgrounds. They were saying how racist and how unfair this state law is. Leave it to students to spewing off their altruistic opinions. They are experts on everything... according to them. (Note to self: if a students is interviewed, disregard said testimony as irrelevant.)

This is not a racist bill, though the immigration problem is a 100% Hispanic one. This is a wake-up bill to Washington DC and the self-aggrandizing current and past administrations.

It is illegal to be in America illegally. This is a federal law. The federal government should be enforcing our laws. It is not. Congress has not provided sufficient direction and funding to do the job. Democrats like the votes, Republicans like the cheap the saying goes. This problems has existed regardless of who controls Washington. Obama, Reed and Pelosi just happens to be the ones that can do something about it today.

Families getting torn apart and the police acting like the Gestapo are not changed by this law, if the federal authorities were doing their jobs. These "show-me-your-papers" fears are "misguided."

The murder of Cochise County rancher Rob Krentz is just the most recent example of what's happening on our border. We are fighting a war with Mexico. The war is over drugs -- Mexicans are in the drug delivery business; Americans are in the drug consuming business.

The Border Patrol, in case you did not know (due to its lack of funding) protects our border deep inside America. They have road checks 50 inland. Why? They cannot patrol the so-called fence, as there really is not one to speak of. There are a few facades in places but go 50 miles down the border, and walk right through. They acknowledge the entries and try to catch them at inland checkpoints.

Most Mexicans do not come here for citizenship. That argument should be tossed out. They come her for economic reasons -- anything to get out of their cesspool of a nation. They break the law getting her, albeit a misdemeanor. Over time, life occurs. They learn how to find work and how to find forged papers. They have children, so they learn how to get health care and education at the expense of the American taxpayers. Life continues and their children learn the American ways, all based on a fraud. Children should not be held accountable for their parents' mistakes. One could make a case for a citizenship path for the children of their illegal parents but would have a tough time making the case for the instigators of the mess -- the parents.

America is being invaded from the south. Build the fence. Defend the entire border. Deal with the exceptions. Do not award citizenship to those who came her illegally, with no interest in becoming American citizens.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Rincon Peak - Saguaro National Park

A co-worker and I spent the day in Saguaro National Park. We hiked to the top of Rincon Peak. To say it is a tough hike is an understatement.

We began at the Miller Creek trail head (elevation = 4307 feet). It starts out level, following Miller Creek (it had some flowing water in it today). After about 1.5 miles, we reached the Saguaro National Park boundary. From there, the hike is up hill. Some pitches are steeper than others. After around 3 miles of climbing, we reached a more level area and the Heartbreak Ridge trail. After 0.5 miles, we arrived at an area called Happy Valley Campground (a single campsite). From there it is 3.2 miles of up, up and up. The closer we got to the top, the steeper it got. I'd estimate the pitch at around 40 percent.

Rincon Peak is a great rock. The nob can be seen from most of Tucson. It is unlike most areas in Tuscon, as it is not Sonoran desert. It starts out with cottonwood, sycamore and oak, transitions to manzanita, juniper and pinion, and then into more traditional alpine vegetation -- ponderosa, douglas fir, and white pine (some of these are splendid specimens). A true island in the sky.

This is a strenuous hike. It is 8.1 miles to the top and the same back down. 16.2 miles is long regardless. As you are tired, the decent might just be worse than the ascent. For us, the hike took 10 hours. We did not take a whole lot of breaks and spent only 15 minutes on top (it was cold and very windy for 1 May).