The money illusion

I think it is time for people to realize just what money is, and why it
is foolish to spend your life trying to get as much as you can.  Now,
don’t misunderstand me, we do need money and the more money we have, the
more money we can spend which occasionally leads to more fun and
happiness. The problem is the system is designed to make you feel as if you have
more than you actually have.  Let’s look at a house for example; way back
in 1960, my parents bought a medium size rancher in Maryland.  They paid
the ridiculously low amount of $19,999 for it.  At the time that
was a lot of money when salaries were generally under $10,000 per year or
hourly wages were in the $1 to $3 range.  Milk was 19 cents a guart and
gas was 20 cents a gallon.  Cars were a couple of thousand dollars!
Candy was a penny to 5 cents and a loaf of bread was under a
dime!  So, back to my point, after buying this new home they had to
furnish it, maintain it, pay the mortgage, which included interest and
taxes, plus deal with inflation, which over the last 50 or so years has
been around 2.5-3.5 percent! Do you realize that the current dollar is
worth a little more than a penny in 1950 dollars?!  It does not take an
Einstein to determine that the cost of a house is a lot higher than what
you first think. After living in the house for almost 50 years my
parents passed away and the house was sold for the incredible amount of
somewhere around $300,000! That seems like a large sum of money but the
numbers behind it are insane.  First, the interest alone on a 30 year
loan is generally doubles the cost of the loan which means the cost of
the home is really about $40,000.  Second. as the value of the home
inflates, the taxes go up and in 50 years that adds up to a lot of
money!  Let me make up a number of $1000/year on average for the taxes
over 50 years, which is probably very low. That comes to $50,000 in taxes for the
life of the house. Not to mention, the $300,000 return is in current
dollars which are inflated almost 100 times! Now think about
maintenance; the roof was probably replaced twice, the flooring was
constantly being upgraded, occasional painting interior and exterior,
appliances replaced, furnace replacement, heating,
cooling and lighting the place, insurance and general maintenance on the
multitude of different systems in a house. Do you see my point?  The
house is a great thing for many reasons but it is not a terribly great
way to invest your money. In fact, there is no great way to invest you
money, that’s right, none!  Yes, sometimes people buy something and due
to circumstances, that thing, be it a house or a bar of gold, the price
skyrockets, thus the individual makes a substantial gain in their worth,
but this is the exception, not the rule.
The bottom line is the system is rigged and beyond occasional blind
luck, your money will not grow in real dollars over time. There are some
individuals who save large amounts of money over their careers and sit
on that money.  This money is being eroded on a daily basis
by finance fees and  inflation.  In reality your money is just holding its own in
real value, if you’re lucky. I always laugh when people say that they are getting 2
or 3 percent on their savings. Really?? That is the general level of
inflation, which means that you are breaking even, not growing your
wealth. The real problem arises when people retire.  Many retired people
are on a fixed income, which means their income will not match inflation.
That means, don’t plan to live too many years after
you retire or inflation will get you before the many diseases of old age have
their way with you! With all that information in your heard, I guess there is one final
piece of advice I think I can give you, enjoy your life and remember that the real things in
life are not sold in Wal-Mart but are in your heart and the people around you.
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About my gardens and not Trump.

Every time I think about Trump I get sick to my stomach, so I am going to write about my gardens!

This year I got a great head start on my gardens with the help of my friend Dorothy and I am excited about the results.  Over the last week the rain has helped create a canopy of green that takes my breath away.  Not so very long ago the woods were dark and not very pleasing to the eye but now they are a testament to the power of the seasons and the sun.  Hopefully these pictures will help you forget for a short time the crazy world in which we now live.

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This is my new rain garden designed to help collect runoff from the new driveway.  There are a variety of plants including some hostas, grasses and perennials.  So far it has worked well at soaking up the large amount of rain that has fallen.  I love the way the rock border turned out.

My new azaleas are blooming great! I think they look fantastic up against the front of the house.

The new steps I rebuilt last summer have new pots and the garden up above is doing nicely. Sorry about the wheel barrows.

The deck garden is looking great with the phlox and to the far left is my clematis which will be beautiful real soon.

This shady deck area is what I call my hosta garden.  They seem to love it here.

I hope this served as a diversion to what we are all growing tired of.  Our world is now green again after a long. cold winter, so we should make a point of enjoying it on a daily basis.  HAVE A GREAT DAY!

Reality TV and it’s affect on society

During the last two years my friend got me interested in watching Survivor, a reality based TV show. I must say the concept of the show is intriguing.  Take a group of people, place them on a beautiful deserted island, make some rules to promote the systematic removal of their fellow islanders, provide a large cash reward for the last survivor and let the games begin.  In the season opener, the host of the program called it a grand experiment in human behavior. I believe he is correct. After watching this program for nearly two years, I have many mixed feelings about it which I will try to express in the following piece.

My biggest concern: is this type of programming healthy for society? Without getting into the gruesome details, lying, deceit, promoting one’s self, winning regardless of the pain inflicted on your fellow-man are just some of the tools needed to survive.  This seems rather divergent from the idea of living in peace.  I spend much time pondering why our society is so violent and the one theme that keeps coming back to me is TV or media in general.  The old obvious things like murder and sexual encounters are almost pass in today’s world so now we have a more insidious and divisive stab at the human brain, the teaching of a philosophy of gaining power at the expense of your fellow-man!  This is the backbone of capitalism; exploit and capitalize on other people who are lured in by the promise of monetary rewards! Survivor has been on the air for nearly 36 seasons and has generational followers.  Although the show remains virtually the same throughout that time, the producers have learned to tweak the format to bring out the worst in human behavior.  You start out with normal everyday folks and turn them into carnivorous creatures ready to devour their competition.  I guess the theme here is that the evil tendencies lurk in all our souls.

 

The second reality show I want to mention is The Bachelor, which picks one eligible man who is swamped with a group of generally beautiful women and through a maze of dates and other activities he might become engaged to one woman in the end.  There is a methodology of removing women as the show goes on as he narrows his field of choices. Now you need to think about this carefully, all these women come onto this show to find a man, that’s why they are there!  The show tries to bring out the personalities of the women to allow the man to choose a companion who more closely meets his criteria. I am sure that many of the things that might be said in a normal relationship development are held tightly inside for several reasons; you are on national TV, all you friends and family are watching, you will be eliminated early or some of them might be interpreted as foolish or embarrassing!

In this season’s show the man reduced his choices to two very beautiful and seemly wonderful ladies.  He expressed over and over that he had fallen in love with both women.  In light of the fact that both women were showing their very best side all the time to help ensure that they be selected, this seemed to me like a train headed for a bridge-less gorge with no brakes.  I do feel that he believed he was in love with both women even though they had spent zero time together in a real life situation.  The emotional stress that all these people were under was immense and was tearing at the very fiber of their personalities.  My friend repeatedly told me that it was just a TV show but I responded that it was a reality show with real people dealing with real situations and I felt empathy for the people involved.  Finally he chose one of the women, and the scene where he said goodbye to the woman he did not select was as heart wrenching as anything I have seen on TV!  It was obvious that he still held deep feelings for this woman he was leaving behind.

Flash forward to when he is spending more time with the lady he selected in a more reality based situation.  Life is not always exciting, not like a TV show where everything is tightly controlled.  No more exotic dates to far off lands, just a trip to a local restaurant or a movie, maybe a romantic evening alone watching a movie, making pizza or playing a game.  Gradually the image of the other lady begins to creep back into his brain.  In his mind all he can remember is the fantastic times they had together.  There were no evenings making a meal, cleaning the dishes or hanging out in the living room watching a movie.  Every moment with her was fantastic and now he is becoming bored with this REAL-LIFE experience.  Maybe he made the wrong choice…buyer’s remorse.

So now he has to tell his first choice that he made a mistake and he wants to see the second place woman.  Needless to say, she was not too happy about this.  He was deeply upset and unable to fully understand his actions.  He spent far too much time trying to get lady number one to understand what he was about to do, but he tried and tried until she told him to leave.

No doubt falling in love is a deeply emotional journey but it also requires sacrifice and work, not just fantastic dates and events.  My concern is with people who watch these reality shows and somehow confuse these renditions of life with realities of life.  Couple this with manipulation of human emotions for entertainment purposes and you are laying the tracks to failure.  Lastly I worry about a society that adopts this capitalist approach to the interactions between a man and a woman.  One of the ideas thrown out when people discuss the demise of our society is the fragmentation of marriage followed by the family.  How would the concept of family have any chance of surviving with the ideology that these shows promote?  Promoters of these shows claim they are just entertainment and not to read too much into them, but I say they are mirrors of society that reflect back to us in their own small ways the direction that our society is going.  I will give you one historical example of this, Roseanne Barr’s show  which depicted a family in constant chaos, uneducated, undisciplined and struggling to survive in an evolving technological society.  The first time I watched this show I saw it as a window into the future of the American family.  Even then I was seeing the tug-a-war between the family and a changing society.

So back to the bachelor.  In the final episode of the show we see the man asking the second lady if she will take him back, forgive him, give him another chance to win her love and devotion.  To my disbelief she took him back!  My money is that he will soon grow tired of his second choice.  When I learned that he was a racecar driver, it all came clear to me, he is an adrenalin junky. He lives on the edge, that place where all your senses are stimulated to the max. This is exactly where the show keeps their contestants, on the edge with all senses stimulated.   Marriage is an endeavor requiring communication and lots of real work.  Being married is a commitment to use all your abilities to understand and improve your spouse’s life and hopefully they feel the same way, otherwise the relationship is doomed to fail.

 

 

Forced pooling changes its name to Co-tenancy modernization and Protection Act.

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This article was posted 2 years ago and here we go again,

Contrary to what many believe, Forced Pooling is not a requirement that everyone in the neighborhood install a pool.  All kidding aside, Forced Pooling is a very serious issue!  Here in West Virginia our legislature is currently deciding if we, if West Virginia want to allow Forced Pooling to be passed into law.  So what is forced pooling?

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If an oil/gas company wants to drill on or near your land, they may be able to force you to allow them to drill if they get a certain percentage of your neighbors agreeing to drill!  With the inevitable passing of this bill, because of the incredibly large amount of money being thrown at our legislators, a land owner will no longer have the right to decide what is done with the mineral rights on one’s property!   Yes, they could put up a drilling rig near your home!  So much for NIMBY legislators  (Not in my back yard) who are comfortable with drilling in other places that do not effect their own environment.

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Maybe this last election was more about oil/gas companies getting the right folks elected so that they could get forced Pooling Passed than it was about all the other stupid stuff that we were fed by the media. I think it is more than interesting that so near the election we are already talking about Forced Pooling.  The new guys have not even tried out their assembly chairs before forced pooling has become a major discussion point.

Anyone who is a student of human behavior knows that land owner’s rights are taken away little by little.  The best analogy to explain this is the slowly cooked frog.  If one places a frog in a pot of cool water, it will likely sit blisfully there for a long time.  Upon increasing the heat gradually way, the frog will slowly cook, never trying to escape before it heads to that great pond in the sky.  If that frog is placed in hot water, it will immediately jump out to live to eat another insect.  We humans are very similar to our frog.  If they take away our rights very slowly, some of us, will complain, but little will be done to rectify the situation.  When a disastrous situation arises suddenly, we jump into action to save the day.

If you are concerned about your rights to decide what you want to do or not do with your land and personal property, you better be contacting your legislature to express your feelings regarding Forced Pooling. Do not be like the frog who enjoys the heat and get slowly cooked.

hydrofracking mother nature

Jesus, Mother Teresa and Socrates need guns!

I have been contemplating the latest event that occurred in Florida.  I have already written on article  “From a distance the earth looks peaceful and clean.”  but I woke up this morning with an idea that I wanted to develop for you, my loyal readers!  I also had some help from my daughter.

Bless me Father, I gonna sin.

Maybe we are looking at this gun issue from the wrong direction.  Another friend of mine is a Catholic priest and he expressed to me his fear of being shot during confessions or while performing a service.  I listened to him express his concern at being a potential target in a house of the lord!  He was obviously very bothered.  The answer to this is simple, ARM THE MINISTRY!  Think about this, the minister in most churches has the tactical advantage.  Most ministers are in the front, up above the congregation and have a place to hide a gun in the podium which could be hardened to protect the shooter.  Properly trained they could take out any individual in the group.  I am pretty sure the NRA will support this idea.  Think of the marketing, the guns could be decorated with religious pictures or maybe even redesigned to look more like a cross.  There could even be T-shirts and bobble head dolls of the ministers carrying a rifle.  The possibilities are endless!

 

Don’t worry, I can take it out for a fee.
Don’t make me say it again, pee in the bottle!

As I was writing the first paragraph, other possibilities became obvious.  Often times hospitals are emotional hotbeds due to the tragic injuries and even deaths.  By now I am sure you have figured out where I am going with this.  ARM THE DOCTORS AND NURSES!  Why should they be easy targets?  Think of the increase in gun sales.  Most nurses are so over worked and stressed out they may invite the idea of carrying a gun.  Obviously the marketing potential is enormous.

 

I am on a roll here,  It scares the hell out of me that Sister Mary Lou from the third grade would be packing under her habit!  No more ruler on the knuckles or being knocked out of my chair!  Chuckie, if you don’t get to work.  you are going to force me to take serious action!  No sister, no, I will behave.  Problem solved.

You have one last chance Chuckie!

Of course politicians will need to be armed since they are the ones leading this movement.  They could also be brand conscious and endorse their favorite brand.  Think of the revenue our politicians could realize, maybe we could pay them less, or not at all, if they make enough money from endorsements.  This capitalism at its best, a market based political system! (just between me and you I think they already are)

Now think of this, if we are going to expect teachers to perform like policeman, maybe we should expand their training.  We should make teachers become triage trained so that if there is a shooting, they will be ready and trained to handle the carnage that takes place during the shooting. Hell, why not require them to get a medical degree while we are at it. Of course all these individuals will need indebted training in gun usage.  I am sure we could make the cost of this training tax-deductible.

Do I need to repeat the lesson on ballistics?

Now, there is one group that we have failed to discuss; our senior citizens.  All huddled in a non-secure building with underpaid and unarmed staffers looking after them, it’s a disaster waiting to happen and there is only one way to fix this; we need to arm our seniors!  Who cares if their hearing is a little impaired or their vision is not quit what it used to be, they need to protect themselves!  For those seniors who are mentally challenged, we can give them guns with blanks which will help them feel like part of the community.  No one left behind; where did I hear that anyway?

Now you got to ask yourself, did I shoot 7 or 8. I sure as hell don’t remember.

While we are on this topic, I have one final idea.  I would like to find some investors who would financially support me in my new venture, bullet proof clothing, why not?  If we dress our kids in bullet proof clothes, they will probably survive a shooting, provided they are wearing their helmet and they did not buy their new clothes at a discount store.  Of course the bullet proof clothes will be available to the shooter as well.  This is an easy problem to solve.  We must give our teachers, seniors, medical professionals and of course politicians armor-piercing bullets so they have the advantage over the attacker.  Sometimes these problems force us to think outside the box or did I mean jail cell..

Just for those of you who think I have finally found my way in the gun debate…I am being sarcastic!

From a distance the earth looks peaceful and clean.

It’s in our hands.

 

Since the beginning of my blog career, I have wanted to write the following piece.  I have tossed it around in my brain over and over again but was not able to get a clear vision of how to write this.  It is a bit philosophical, so many of you may fall off before you get to the end, but that’s life.  Here goes!

Whenever I see crazy things happening in our world, I try to step back to observe it from a larger view.  Let’s consider the latest crazy thing that has happened, the high school shooting in Florida.  Of course, this is not the first, nor will it be the last, so get ready for the copycats who have some kind of ax to grind or who are just plain out-to-lunch.  Let’s not look at the numbing details of this sad event but see it as if we are watching from outer space or maybe in the sterile environment of a movie theater.  Here is what you would see: a large industrial country that has been taken over by mega-corporations, that have secured the vote of most elected officials with the constant flow of money into their wallets, and very decadent wealthy upper class, with a large portion of the remaining population surviving day-to-day.  The environment is struggling due to the non-stop pollution of air, land and water.  Much of the population is convinced that they can continue to abuse Mother Earth without consequences.  Alcohol, nicotine, heroin, marijuana, opioids are just some of the drugs of choice people use to help them manage the everyday stresses of our society.  Countries that made their wealth on the backs of underpaid immigrants have now decided that those immigrants are bad people and so should be sent back to their native countries.  Governments have become unresponsive to the needs of the common man.  Many young people raised in this chaotic environment feel unconnected, unchallenged and helpless.  A large portion of people have made themselves feel more secure with the purchase of large arsenals of guns.  Technology has outstripped human understanding of the effect all of this is having on human behavior, especially on youth!

Overall, we see a world in chaos, always on the brink of war, with many of its inhabitants malnourished and over populated, and suffering from the long-term effects of industrial chemicals in the food chain, air and water.  What is staggering is the almost total denial of the environmental direction our world is taking!  There are many who are decrying the consequences of our reckless action, but we have inappropriate names for them, like ‘tree huggers” or “greenie” while so many laugh at their scary predictions.

So, back to the problem of the killings.  Outrageous actions are merely the expression of the frustrations that run through our society.  These people who randomly take their own life or the lives of their fellow-man are generally lonely, disconnected, angry and most often have a deplorable sense of their own self-worth.  So, viewing this reckless behavior from a distance lets you see these events as small aberrations in the complex flow of people, materials and ideas.  This does not make them any less horrific, but allows one to analyze the events with less emotional response.  What is it in our society that leads our acquaintances and neighbors to turn into these monsters capable of these terrible behaviors?

If one wishes to study a society, one must look at it in its entirety.  I believe that sports provide a window to the state of our world and have come to the conclusion that football is one small example of how our society functions.  Almost all the terminology of football is war-based.  Words like offense and defense are words commonly used in war.  Games are often referred to as wars between two teams.  Blitz is taken from the German word blitzkrieg which is a high-speed force to break the opposition’s line.  Oftentimes a pass is referred to as a bomb.  Linemen are often said to be in the trenches, a reference to ground warfare.  Kickoff teams are often called suicide squadsEnd around is a play designed to outflank the defense. a common term in land wars. The basic concept of lining two groups up against each other and then competing (fighting as in ice hockey) until one team is victorious, is nothing more than a microcosm of war.

How about the commercials we watch?  Try to listen to TV commercials from a distance.  Their primary focus is sex appeal.  According to the advertisers you must wear the right clothes, eat the right food, use the best drugs, drive the fastest car or purchase any number of products to increase you self-worth.  The latest word in advertising is “Brain Hacking” which is pretty scary stuff. We now have the ability to basically hack human brains with technology! Do the words BRAVE NEW WORLD or 1984 come to mind?

Last on my list of issues facing our culture is emerging telephone technology.  In the future, I think we may see this as a turning point in history.  Already sociologists are studying the immense effect that cell phones are having on our youth. Here are some of the effects we are already witnessing: increased tendonitis of the back, neck and hands, stress and fatigue, sleep loss, auto wrecks, anxiety, electromagnetic induced cancer, cyber bullying and a decreased sexual activity (you decide if this is bad).

Many of the shootings are perpetrated by adolescents.  There’s no wonder, with the stress we place on them.  In the past we cherished the ‘wonder years’ where we grew up without the constant drumbeat of society that engulfs our very thought.  We played in the woods, watched Father Knows Best or enjoyed a board game.  Now we play video games in which we witness and even take part in countless horrible deaths in a relatively short time or watch a TV show saturated with sex and violence  Our youth witness inappropriate sexual situations long before their brains are ready for it.  We encourage our youth to play organized sports that reward over-aggressiveness with praise and trophies.

I realize that I have been all over the map with this piece, but it is all demonstrably connected.  Everything I have discussed and many that I have not are essential features of our society.  WE ARE A HYPER-VIOLENT SOCIETY!  From a distance we would see that guns are merely the tools of a violent society.  Up close it is a violent, destructive tool that gives the owner the power over life and death.  We are witnessing this every time we have to suffer through one of these terrible events.  Even though I see our society as the root cause of our problems, I see the need to place controls over the types of guns, the number of guns and the mental state of who owns them!  Just as we placed controls over who drives a car, we must change our laws to restrict the ownership of lethal weapons to the degree it is possible.  We have a most difficult road ahead and some large corporations are going to fight us every step of the way.  It is up to us, every one of us, to demand that we go in the right direction, where human life is placed above profit or power. We face a very uncertain future with respect to violence in our society.  For our children and our grandchildren and their children, we must succeed!

 

The state of education in West Virginia

The largest display of teacher unity in the 43 years I have been in the county! Almost 150 teachers and supporters came out!

This is a difficult problem to address.  There are many variables to consider: economic levels, parent level of education, local job availability, family income, remoteness of an area, just to name some of the obvious considerations.  West Virginia has always ranked low in national student achievement statistics.  At times we have hovered around 50th in teacher salaries and occasionally we have made into the low 40″s in national rankings. Regardless, we have always been near the bottom of the list.

The question that must be addressed is the substandard wages that our state pays it teachers.  This is a vicious cycle that seems hard to escape.  For years the state relied on the coal industry to provide enough tax base to at least keep the budget balanced, but today the use of coal is decreasing and mechanization has reduced the need for coal miners thus reducing the tax base for the state.  The brainiacs that we elected keep reducing taxes and the end result is financial chaos, which is where we are now  I do not see a good end to this situation.  The teachers are underpaid, the state has no money, they refuse to raise taxes on the few corporations and the people keep voting these substandard individuals into office. West Virginia is bought and sold by the resource and energy industries and they have a lot to say in the form of political contributions to these dunces in office.

Wow, where can this possibly go?  This is like a boat approaching a waterfall!  This has no good possible outcomes.  If the teachers suddenly grow a backbone and stand up for their profession and the students of West Virginia, I have no idea what the legislature will or can do.  I can not even make a guess as to the outcome of this game of chicken.  The teachers have tolerated low wages and decreasing healthcare benefits for so long, they are at the end of their rope. Stay tuned for what will, in the end, be in a whimper as teachers scurry back to their classrooms or a battle of epic proportions if they stand up to the state government.  I am rooting for the teachers but I would not place any money bets.

 

50. Mississippi: $42,043

49. Oklahoma: $42,647

48. South Dakota: $43,200

47. North Carolina: $43,587

46. Arizona: $43,800

46. West Virginia: $45,477

The future is beginning to become clear to me.

I have resisted writing about the ongoing insanity that we call politics but I cannot resist this.  I want to be in print so I can say, “I told you so” after it is all over.  Here is what is going to happen according to my magic crystal ball… Since fortune telling is a relatively expensive service, I will make this quick.

  1. Mueller’s investigation will continue to issue indictments that are closer to the president.
  2. As the investigation gets closer, republicans will panic and try to remove Trump from office before the midterms at which time they may loose control of the house and senate. This action is due to the fact that the speaker of the house is currently a republican and third in line to be president.  In the case the president and vice president are removed or resign from office, constitutional procedure will place the speaker of the  house in office.
  3. Democrats will successfully drag their feet in hopes that they will win control of the house and senate.
  4. The mid term election will be held and democrats will take control of at least the senate and maybe the house.
  5. Democrats will immediately begin impeachment procedures which will be successful.
  6. Trump, seeing the handwriting on the wall will resign.
  7. With democrats being in charge, the democratic speaker of the house will move into the presidency.
  8. Trump supporters, consisting of white supremacists, ultra right wingers, Breitbart followers, NRA members and many other right wing groups will fill the streets protesting the removal of Trump. Violence will break out…That’s as far as I can see ahead for now.

That will be $20.00

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