Tag Archives: economics

Making money the old fashioned way

Hi readers. Thanks for coming by for a read this morning.

I saw a bumper sticker in town yesterday in the parking lot of the last Gibson’s store in existence. 20 year old beat-to-hell pickup with the sticker, “I make money the old fashioned way – I work for it“.

Judging by the truck, I’m guessing he’s probably telling the truth.

Inside the store when I went to pay for my purchase the cashier held the bill up to the light, then used a black felt tip pen on it and squinted at it again. When she decided it was okay I asked whether they get any phonies.

Lots of them.” She shrugged and counted out my change, which I didn’t examine closely. That’s trust.

The fact is there are lots of old fashioned ways to make money. Working has always been the least efficient method, but it’s widely praised by people who have a lot of it by inheritance, politics, graft, bailouts, handouts, subsidies, and prostitution. Someone has to do the grunt work or the whole system of economics falls apart.

Fact is, someone has to ring the cash registers, clean out the sewer lines, change the oil on cars, sit behind desks doing meaningless, boring, dead-end chores all day or it would become downright inconvenient for people who made their money the various other old fashioned ways.

And those hamburger flippers and sewer plant operaters need to be able to find something about it they can construe as a virtue, rather than just being fools and useful zombies drawing lousy pay for essential work to keep things running.

Long Humor vs Short Humor/No Humor

Good morning readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read this morning.

I dunno.  I suppose I’d have to call the previous post successful in the sense a few people must have read all the way through it.  The testimony’s in the several subscribers who cancelled their subscriptions.

But generally I think my particular brand of BS as it manifests itself in attempts at humor works better if I keep it short.

On the other hand, the lead-in probably escapes a lot of readers, no matter how short the immortal prose happens to be.  Causes the occasional reader to think I might be wanting to seriously discuss politics.  A couple of the comments led me to think that might be the case.

All in all, probably the Universe is a better place if my attempts at funny just zip off into the ether and don’t hit anything on the way to Galactic Prime. 

Old Jules

Boom-Towning the US – Economic One-Upsmanship by Texasizing

Good morning readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read this morning.

When the neighbor from up the hill described a business boom going on around Edinburg, Texas, [his previous home] the other evening it got me wondering why.  According to him, the entire Texas coastline is a beehive of manufacturing concerns, either operating, or under construction.  Even a Chinese owned gigantic steel plant.

After considering why this might be for a couple of days I concluded there’s a middling chance the Texas tax structure’s probably a major piece of it.  Texas doesn’t have a State Income Tax.  It relies almost entirely on sales taxes and property taxes for revenues.

That mightn’t sound too important at first notice.  But consider the implications more closely. 

  • First, workers employed in Texas can enjoy a higher take-home pay than those employed in states where income taxes are the revenue source.  This allows employers to pay the employees less than they’d have to do elsewhere.  Workers pay more when they spend their checks on consumer goods, but it doesn’t come out on profit and loss statements of the companies paying them.
  • Secondly,  CEOs, plant managers, high-ranking professionals living within the State, but who enjoy salaries high enough for investments of their incomes pay taxes only on their property holdings and consumer purchases.  Same as the legion of minimum-wage workers they employ.
  • Thirdly, all the nearby suppliers of raw materials, parts and labor for the industries enjoy the same tax-free status and are almost certainly able to offer their products and services more cheaply than they could do located in areas where State Income Tax exists.

For states with stagnant economies, especially those with coastal port facilities, but not limited to those, seems to me the answer might be to take a page from the Texas book.  The most immediate and obvious answer would be eliminating state income taxes and making it up in sales and property taxes.  But that would take a while.  Meanwhile, Texas booms and everyone else continues to lose jobs.

Naturally each situation would require site-specific solutions for immediate competition with Texas for new industries.  But several options come to mind:

  • Locate your port facilities here and we’ll do whatever’s needed to make absolutely certain your construction costs are lower than they’d be in Texas.  Whatever corners Texan regulators would allow you to cut in construction, environmental and safety standards, our regulators will allow more.
  • We’ll reduce our spending on our State vehicle fleets by putting a moratorium on buying any new vehicles for five years.  That money will be delivered in suitcases full of un-marked $100 bills to the people charged with the decision for your location.
  • We’ll make special interim provisions in our income-tax laws exempting dividends to stockholders, CEO and other high ranking professional employees from our State Income Tax.
  • We’ll lower our minimum wage to lower-level employees to the Texas minimum wage, minus the amount of the State Income Tax.  That will allow you to hire minimum wage-earning workers at the same rate it would cost you if you’d located in Texas.
  • We’ll overlook any hiring of illegal aliens you might do involving jobs good Americans don’t want.  Outdoors, heavy-lifting, that sort of thing.
  • We’ll provide lists of the names and families of all your high-ranking employees to all law enforcement agencies and prosecutors and provide a GET OUT OF JAIL FREE card for each family member.  If you, or family members are busted for illegal drug possession we’ll make certain the arresting officers are suspended or otherwise punished.  Your executive employees will enjoy the same privileges in that regard as any State, local, or Federal politician.
  • If your executives are non-white, non-Anglo, non-protestant they’ll never overhear themselves referred to at the country club as Chinks, slopeheads, zipperheads, Mescins, mackeral-snappers, ragheads, camel jockeys, or sand niggers, as they certainly would in Texas.

Naturally they’d have to develop other business-friendly encouragements over time, but those would, at least open the door for a beginning.

Old Jules


A Salute to the Un-Sung Veterans

But not these:

I don’t expect anyone to like this post. 

Veteran’s Day is one of those days to indulge the self-elevating act of patting ourselves on the back by  public expressions of thanks to military veterans for protecting our freedoms.  A day we mutually endorse a falsehood:  that the endless series of military adventures US presidents have indulged in since the end of WWII contributed to freedoms we enjoy today. 

Any sincere effort to thank those who actually sacrificed serving this country would involve visits to VA Hospitals where those doing the sacrificing are found.  But nobody will see you and praise you for doing it because nobody else will be there, either.  Aside from a few politicians looking for news bites the place will be as empty of thankers as any other day.

We veterans who served in the US services from the end of WWII until now did so for a lot of reasons.  Conscription was one of those reasons until the end of the Vietnam War.  Many of us volunteered, but to suggest we’d have done so if we hadn’t been threatened by conscription is ludicrous.   The Vietnam War would have ended by 1967 or sooner if they’d had to rely on volunteers.

To go further and pretend the vast majority of men and women who’ve served in the all-volunteer military following Vietnam did so for patriotic reasons is equally ludicrous.  Many, many did so because it provided a high paying career, excellent benefits, early retirement on a scale they could never have achieved outside the military. 

True, some tiny percentage risked their lives in the pursuit of the careers they chose which involved being sent into harms way to further political interests of US presidents without Constitutional declarations of war by the US Congress.

I pondered all this in an earlier post, Abdicating Personal Responsibility to Politicians.

So today, this old vet says to you, “Thanks, but no thanks for your thanks.”

Instead, I’m offering thanks to a group of people who have actually done something positive, but who’ve not been thanked in living memory.

You won’t see any parades for these heroes today.  Nobody will be patting them on the back, giving them hugs with self-aggrandizing acknowledgement of the sacrifices they make daily for this country.

You won’t catch them waving flags and posturing, strutting over their health risks constantly encountered for the service they’ve chosen.  It’s their jobs.  They volunteered for it, same as military volunteers chose the jobs they do.  Even though on average their jobs are a lot greater threat to their health and the duration of their lives than those of cops and military servicemen.

The difference is, they can’t retire after 20 years with generous pensions.  They don’t get free health care for life.   And fawning patriots don’t ask them to pretend they’re John Wayne, gulp staring into the distance to voice-moving news bites.  Nobody asks them for orations to give the gathered admirers something to pat themselves on the back about.

They can’t even get anyone to listen when they do say anything that might make their lives easier.

“We literally have tens of thousands of these beach whistles lying in the rip-rap around the lagoons. And tens of thousands more get screened out of the composted biosolids when we dredge the lagoons. Ladies, these aren’t biodegradable and belong in the trashcan, not the toilet. The basics of what should get flushed distills down to this: if you haven’t eaten it, or used it to wipe off something you’ve eaten, it goes in the trash. That also applies to the device that these applicators are designed to insert. Wrap ’em with a wad of Charmin if you are embarrassed by them, but please, please, please don’t flush ’em.”


But what I respect most about them is they don’t posture or swagger to call attention to themselves, they don’t whine, they don’t beg for acknowledgement or thanks.  And they don’t believe they should be showered with benefits and high salaries for the service they voluntarily perform daily without complaint or thanks.

They’ve done more for this country every day of my life than any military service member I’ve ever heard of.

This old military vet’s hat goes off in salute to the men and women who work in the sewage treatment plants and pump the septic systems of this great nation this Veteran’s Day.

Thank you for your service.

Old Jules


Insult to Injury – Stealing Blogs for Re-sale to Students

I just received notification that the survival book posted here, Desert Emergency Survival Basics,  https://sofarfromheaven.com/survival-book-2/ is being offered up for sale to students to help them cheat on term papers, research papers and Professional Essays:

Professional essays and research papers – we offer only the best writers of performers, that provides a only guarantees great results term paper . Recommended Reading – buy term paper on-line unique content quality ensure! Bomba Writing Com”  wbomba@yandex.com

There’s an irony here.  The book was accepted for publication by the mass market publisher for books of that ilk in 2006, but we couldn’t arrive at an agreement on various contract details, mainly the advance and royalty issues assuring I’d get paid something for my work.

These folks have cut out the middle man, but only after it’s being offered free here, though I hadn’t considered the possibility students might use it to slither around course requirements.

No good deed goes unpunished.

Old Jules

Oak Wilt, Firewood and Sawmilling

Two years ago these were healthy trees.

About a year ago the trees in the vicinity of the cabin began dying.  I’d been fairly certain it would happen because there’s a grove immediately above about 100 yards that had all died off two or three years ago.  It appears to have started at the power line easement atop the hill and is making a path of dead trees moving east, or downhill.

Conventional wisdom is that it’s Red Oak Wilt, or Red Oak Disease.  There aren’t a lot of certainties about it, no preventive measures or cures anyone’s aware of.

Over the space of about a month they lost all their leaves and the bark began separating from the wood.  One of the problems with trying to get them down is the abundance of wasps making nests between the wood and the bark.  Hundreds of wasp nests and clouds of angry wasps.   The temptation is to wait for a cold day.

There was a certain amount of urgency about trying to take some of them down because after Oak Wilt kills a tree the first strong wind often brings it down.  Evidently the disease rots the root system long before anything shows above ground.  Several of the dozen-or-so trees dying immediately around the cabin and outbuildings actually have large limbs hanging over roofs.

But the nights are cooling enough to send the message it’s time to begin building a pile of firewood.  It won’t take much hauling this year.  Some of it I could almost cut and allow it to drop down the chimney pipe.

The larger trunks are going to be a major undertaking to split, so I’m thinking I might sawmill any of them with potentially good lumber left.  Sometimes Oak Wilt rots out the center too badly to leave anything worth using except to burn, but sometimes it leaves the heartwood almost untouched.

If there’s enough capable of being sawmilled it might provide enough oak for a project I have in mind cut relatively thin into planks usable for building a structure.  But in any case it ought to stay toasty inside the cabin this winter.

Old Jules

Affordable Art

Left to right:  Left, Democrats.  Middle center, banks, multi-nationals, defense contractors.  Bottom middle, US public.  Right, Republicans, Tea Party.

Occupy the Great American Success Story

I had a friend for a few years who lived everything the American Dream used to think it was.  He was working for a steel fabrication company in Silver City, New Mexico during the 1970s doing grunt labor, but thinking.  He saw around him some flaws in the ways the process sequences were performed, believed he could advance in the company by suggesting improvements.

Marsh, I’ll call him, went home nights and worked in his garage inventing a tubing bender far more efficient than the one used where he worked.  After it was complete, he took it to the company, expecting praise and rewards.  They shrugged, brushed him off and kept him busier at work.

So Marsh applied for a patent, began manufacturing his bender in his garage.  He couldn’t keep up with the orders, so he quit his job and expanded, meanwhile inventing other improvements on what he’d seen, manufacturing and selling those, also, becoming a surprisingly wealthy man within a decade or so.

His business flourished, his children matured, and one of his sons started another business, inventing, patenting, marketing.  His son became wealthier than Marsh, far more rapidly.  The son, carefully examining his conscience and human needs, his business thriving, spent a million dollars and several months in Afghanistan during the early 2000s building housing, providing shelter for those left homeless by the wars there.

But during those same years Marsh began seeing his patented designs showing up in Harbor Freight and other Chinese import outlets priced lower than he could manufacture them.  His patents were being violated and the US government was allowing those violations to be imported with impunity.  During a Republican administration.  His own inventions competing with him in stores all over the US.

Marsh was outraged and gradually the business he’d built was being destroyed by theft with the complicity of the US government.

Marsh listened to daytime talk radio a lot during those years.  He got daily doses of opinion telling him the source of his problems, and those problems were caused, he allowed himself to be persuaded, by liberals in politics.  When the Tea Party emerged, he attended meetings and demonstrations hoping to bring about political change, hoping somehow to save his business, his livelihood.  Furious, frantic, determined, certain now, this president, this administration was out to destroy him.

Last I heard, it was doing so.  His business was declining to such an extent he was being forced to lay off longtime employees vital to continued operation.

All the years I knew him Marsh was an honorable, honest, solid, hard-working man, dedicated to the betterment of himself, his employees, his country and humanity. 

But somehow he missed the point, maybe because he was standing too close to the problem.  Maybe because he was holding to a dream of how things are that no longer was.

Marsh, to this outsider looking in, was destroyed by a government comprised of the illusion  of two parties.  Both were bought-and-paid-for by people bigger than Marsh.  Neither of those parties cared what happened to Marsh, to his family and employees, to the dream, the innovation, the drive, the ideal he represented.

Marsh was betrayed by the people who own the talk-radio host he listens to, who own the Tea-Party, who own every facet of this country where the decisions are made as to whether US citizens work, prosper and are rewarded for their labors rather than being merely consumers of foreign products.

Marsh didn’t belong in the Tea Party.  He belonged in Occupy Wall Street.

Old Jules

Occupy Utopia

Chaos just isn't all that rare

I’ve been reading a lot of blogs about the ‘Occupy [fill in blank] phenomenon.  The hints of panic from the powerful, the ambiguous hopes of the demonstrators, the near-certainty what’s happening is both the beginnings of a time of public expression about dissatisfaction, and a manifestion of unsatisfied expectations.

Seeing all that brings insistently to mind how intrusive the illusions of a utopian ideal penetrate and embed themselves in the tiny fragment of humanity where chaos took a break long enough for non-chaos to become the expectation.  Mainly in Europe, Japan, the US, Australia and Canada post-WWII.

For the remainder of the world chaos never went to sleep and never expected it to slumber.  Africa, the Middle East, much of South America, Cambodia, Vietnam, the former USSR and other Eastern Block countries, Pakistan and Afghanistan have all experienced so much chaos within living memory there’s probably no danger of them occupying Wall Street.

It might be worth noting it’s an illusion being protested.  Copshops and politicians have never ceased being corrupt in the US, Europe, Japan, anywhere.  The super-wealthy were never not-greedy, never unwilling to sell their countries and their souls to become wealthier.  Religious zealots have never ceased being willing to slaughter disbelievers, rob them, enslave them, though they’ve briefly been restrained somewhat inside defined boundaries since WWII. 

The protests are against the entire history of human behavior.

It might also be worth shaking the head in horror and awe that this comes as a surprise to anyone.  Where have these people been for the past half-century while populations were slaughtering themselves and one another all over the planet except where  they lived?  How could they have come to live inside some bubble of belief that the venal aren’t venal, the greedy aren’t greedy and the corrupt aren’t corrupt?

The bubble is probably an artifact of improved communications, television, public education turning a blind eye to anything outside the sphere being brainwashed into the malleable brain tissue of those vulnerable to it.

Suddenly the bubble bursts.  Chaos yawns, stretches and begins to reawaken.

Old Jules

Occupy Your Local Appliance Repair Shop [Limericks]

It’s the only job left.

Being on top was such fun!
The products were cheap, and the gun
Assured they’d keep coming
Velocities numbing
Til ammo we’d spang out of run.

Those multi-national boys
Didn’t make you buy all of those toys.
You bought them not thinking
From China, though shrinking
Your dollars without so much noise.

It’s jobs that you want, and you’re right
But you’ve got to be part of the fight.
Throw out all your plastic
incumbents and spastic
Buying and crying and spite.

The CEOs bankers and pols
Helped you do it but aren’t Commie moles
It’s true they’re just like you
Their coppers will strike you
While your coppers strike at the doles.

Stopping a train just ain’t easy
The methods are bloody and sleazy
But changing direction
Requires a correction
More solid than whiney and breezy.

Old Jules