Saturday, August 8, 2009

Too heavy, too light, too black or too white, too wrong or too right...

So in my semi-sheltered life I've never been to a real concert.

Yes, I realize I haven't blogged in months.

Back to my story.

So in my semi-sheltered life I've never been to a real concert. So when the Labadie Pig Gig came to town and two bands I really like were headlining the main concert, I decided I couldn't pass up the opportunity.

If you don't know what the Pig Gig is, it's a huge BBQ festival that they do in Bay City every year. I know that my Aunt sampled some of the ribs, and I had some of the ribs and brisket. I made a poor choice, though, because mine was not that impressive.

Anyway, so we went over to the concert to find that Sponge was just starting. They sing one of my favorite songs ever, so here it is.

This is the picture I got with my phone.

The lead singer was a riot. The whole band was very professional and fun to watch. They weren't as exciting as I had hoped with their non-radio music, but still pretty quality.

The next band definitely stole the show.

Seven Mary Three is a grunge, or post-grunge band that has two huge singles on the radio. It wouldn't surprise me if you've heard one or both of them before. But maybe not.

This is typically their biggest song, called Water's Edge (my favorite)

I know the video is shoddy, but the good one had the embedding disabled.

Their most popular song in this area is called Cumbersome. This is the acoustic version, which isn't as good, but it's the best video I could find.

All in all it was a phenomenal show. This is the picture I got of Seven Mary Three.

I would say that Sponge has my favorite song out of the two bands, but Seven Mary Three was definitely more entertaining. They were just awesome live. I had a good time and some decent food. I will definitely be making it back to the Pig Gig next year.

Monday, June 1, 2009

What to do with homemade red sauce?

I was out to fill a craving for some sort of pasta dish today. Armed with some homemade red sauce from the Father, I decided to go with something easy and always tasty. Baked pasta with italian sausage meatballs.

The basic ingredients:

We'll start by browning the italian sausage:

Then add onions and green peppers:

Then, of course, the red sauce:

Finally, add the noodles. I used Pene Rigate noodles, but pretty much any noodle your little heard desires would suffice:

Then put it all in an oven-safe dish, and cover with cheese. I used mozzarella:


All in all, a very good dish. I would have to give it 5 forks out of 5! The red sauce was very good indeed.

Monday, April 13, 2009

A Sign of the Times

This is a paper I wrote for my PSC 101 class. I know it's on my other blog, but I also know that some of you refuse to follow me on Facebook because of politics, let alone my blog about politics.

The United States economy goes through periods of rapid growth, and rapid contraction. In the short history of the U.S., free market capitalism has dominated the marketplace. Recently, we have seen a populous outcry for more regulation, especially on banks. Some policies that have been enacted have done much to expand government power in the economy, and introduce moderate amounts of nationalization and socialism. The American public is very divided on how they want the government to balance regulation and free market principles in weathering this economic storm.

In the first days of October 2008, the Dow Jones Industrial Average evaporated around 20% of the nation’s wealth. Investor confidence waned on news that lending institutions were no longer stable, due to the sub-prime lending market collapse. Mortgage backing giants, and government-sponsored enterprises, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, lead the charge of economic uncertainty. The American public was blood thirsty, and wanted to know who was responsible for regulating these industries.

Coming off the back of insolvent banks, George W. Bush authorized $700 billion worth of funds to be allocated to the United States Department of Treasury. Under the command of Hank Paulson, the Treasury Department was to inject liquidity into major baking institutions that were no longer seen as viable. This TARP (troubled assets relief program) plan was a plan to thaw credit markets in order to spur economic development in the short run, and turn into sustainability in the long run.

George W. Bush always touted free market capitalism throughout his 8 years as President. The American public generally accepted capitalism, and his approval numbers did not fluctuate much after the economic collapse. According to Rasmussen Reports, then President Bush’s approval rating was 34% in August 2008, compared with 33% in October of 2008 (Rasmussen 1). In a second poll by Rasmussen Reports, they examined a specific clip of a George Bush speech. “In mid-November, 44% of adults agreed with President Bush’s statement that ‘free-market capitalism is far more than an economic theory. It is the engine of social mobility - the highway to the American Dream.’ Twenty-two percent disagreed, and 33% were undecided” (Rasmussen 2). This demonstrated a plurality of support for capitalism.

Capitalism works by allowing markets to adjust to where they can be sustained. It’s a natural reaction to a simple economic theory of supply and demand. N. Gregory Mankiw compares The Wealth of Nations, a book that was written by Adam Smith, to the Declaration of Independence. He says, “…the two documents share a point of view that was prevalent at the time: Individuals are usually best left to their own devices, without the heavy hand of government guiding their actions” (Mankiw Pg. 11). Mankiw also hits on a point that can pull the U.S.’s capitalistic system out of the current recession. It is the basic economic concept that people respond to incentives (Pg. 9). Once producers lower their prices to where consumers will again be able and willing to purchase said goods, the economy will begin to produce at levels seen before the economic collapse.

Consumer confidence is a key in weathering any economic storm. Consumers must feel comfortable in spending their money, or savings will pile up – leading to smaller amounts of economic output. A recent Gallup Pole suggests that consumers are starting to gain confidence in the economy. 15% of Americans were optimistic about the economy during the first weeks of February, compared with 32% at the end of March (Gallup 1). With this level of up-tick in optimism among consumers, we may see retail markets bounce back, followed by many other sectors of the economy.

Recently, signs of frustration from the American public have come in the form of low support for capitalism. In a recent Rasmussen survey, only 53% of Americans believe capitalism is better than socialism. However, only 20% of respondents said they felt socialism was better than capitalism (Rasmussen 3). This seems to be a gauge of how frustrated the American people are.

Socialism stems from the belief that the government should step in to monitor and regulate businesses and marketplace interactions. The government also plays a larger role in making sure income is evenly distributed throughout the population. Western Europe has fallen into this sort of behavior with their socialized healthcare system. Healthcare is provided for each citizen, regardless of ability to pay for it. Teemed with a progressive tax system, this healthcare is often financed by the upper class. Americans have been reluctant to give the government this much power, due in large part to our founding fathers’ beliefs in a small government that should be restrained by the people.

Partisanship can be a key factor in deciding the attitudes of American citizens in regards to the economy. Typically, the Republican Party is more favored toward free market capitalism, where Democrats favor tougher regulation, and sometimes socialism. Democrats typically believe the government can solve the problem, whereas Republicans often believe government is the problem. In the Rasmussen Reports poll, Republicans favored capitalism 11-to-1 over socialism. Democrats still favored capitalism, but only 39% said it was better than socialism, while 30% supported socialism over capitalism (Rasmussen 3). Independents played their part as well. “As for those not affiliated with either major political party, 48% say capitalism is best, and 21% opt for socialism” (Rasmussen 3). The key factors of the ideological split in both parties come from each party’s respected leaders. Democrats tend to follow the ideological path of Barack Obama and Barney Frank, who believe that tougher regulations need to be put in place in order to correct the financial systems. Republicans, however, are more divided. Some favor complete free market principles penned by Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), where many others believe in a moderately regulated system touted by Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) and Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina).

One thing is clear in this situation: the American public is very divided on how they want the government to balance regulation and free market principles in weathering this economic storm. The United States is a country that remains to lean center-right on economic principles, and it shows with some of the wide gaps with independents asked about the capitalism vs. socialism dispute. In conclusion, these polls show that although Americans are reluctant to champion the likes of capitalism in these tough economic times, they are not anywhere near embracing socialism.


Gallup. 2009. “Economic Perceptions: Personal vs. National.” Gallup Polls, April 9.

Mankiw, N. Gregory. 2008. Principles of Macroeconomics. Mason, OH; Cengage

Rasmussen Reports 1. 2008. “44% Agree: Free-Market Capitalism is Highway to
American Dream.” Rasmussen Reports, November 18.

Rasmussen Reports 2. 2009. “President Bush Job Approval.” Rasmussen Reports,
January 5.

Rasmussen Reports 3. 2009. “Just 53% Say Capitalism Better Than Socialism.”
Rasmussen Reports, April 9.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Feeling Down?

Watch this! It always seems to get my skin crawling again.

Friday, March 20, 2009

To All My Valued Employees

To All My Valued Employees,

There have been some rumblings around the office about the future of this company, and more specifically, your job. As you know, the economy has changed for the worse and presents many challenges. However, the good news is this: The economy doesn't pose a threat to your job. What does threaten your job however, is the changing political landscape in this country.

However, let me tell you some little tidbits of fact which might help you decide what is in your best interests.

First, while it is easy to spew rhetoric that casts employers against employees, you have to understand that for every business owner there is a back story. This back story is often neglected and overshadowed by what you see and hear. Sure, you see me park my Mercedes outside. You've seen my big home at last years Christmas party. I'm sure; all these flashy icons of luxury conjure up some idealized thoughts about my life.

However, what you don't see is the back story.

I started this company 28 years ago. At that time, I lived in a 300 square foot studio apartment for 3 years. My entire living apartment was converted into an office so I could put forth 100% effort into building a company, which by the way, would eventually employ you.

My diet consisted of Ramen Pride noodles because every dollar I spent went back into this company. I drove a rusty Toyota Corolla with a defective transmission. I didn't have time to date. Often times, I stayed home on weekends, while my friends went out drinking and partying. In fact, I was married to my business -- hard work, discipline, and sacrifice.

Meanwhile, my friends got jobs. They worked 40 hours a week and made a modest $50K a year and spent every dime they earned. They drove flashy cars and lived in expensive homes and wore fancy designer clothes. Instead of hitting the Nordstrom's for the latest hot fashion item, I was trolling through the Goodwill store extracting any clothing item that didn't look like it was birthed in the 70's. My friends refinanced their mortgages and lived a life of luxury. I, however, did not. I put my time, my money, and my life into a business with a vision that eventually, some day, I too, will be able to afford these luxuries my friends supposedly had.

So, while you physically arrive at the office at 9am, mentally check in at about noon, and then leave at 5pm, I don't. There is no "off" button for me. When you leave the office, you are done and you have a weekend all to yourself. I unfortunately do not have the freedom. I eat, and breathe this company every minute of the day. There is no rest. There is no weekend. There is no happy hour. Every day this business is attached to my hip like a 1 year old special-needs child. You, of course, only see the fruits of that garden -- the nice house, the Mercedes, the vacations... You never realize the back story and the sacrifices I've made.

Now, the economy is falling apart and I, the guy that made all the right decisions and saved his money, have to bail-out all the people who didn't. The people that overspent their paychecks suddenly feel entitled to the same luxuries that I earned and sacrificed a decade of my life for.

Yes, business ownership has is benefits but the price I've paid is steep and not without wounds.

Unfortunately, the cost of running this business, and employing you, is starting to eclipse the threshold of marginal benefit and let me tell you why:

I am being taxed to death and the government thinks I don't pay enough. I have state taxes. Federal taxes. Property taxes. Sales and use taxes. Payroll taxes. Workers compensation taxes. Unemployment taxes. Taxes on taxes. I have to hire a tax man to manage all these taxes and then guess what? I have to pay taxes for employing him. Government mandates and regulations and all the accounting that goes with it, now occupy most of my time. On Oct 15th, I wrote a check to the US Treasury for $288,000 for quarterly taxes. You know what my "stimulus" check was? Zero. Nada. Zilch.

The question I have is this: Who is stimulating the economy? Me, the guy who has provided 14 people good paying jobs and serves over 2,200,000 people per year with a flourishing business? Or, the single mother sitting at home pregnant with her fourth child waiting for her next welfare check? Obviously, government feels the latter is the economic stimulus of this country.

The fact is, if I deducted (Read: Stole) 50% of your paycheck you'd quit and you wouldn't work here. I mean, why should you? That's nuts. Who wants to get rewarded only 50% of their hard work? Well, I agree which is why your job is in jeopardy.

Here is what many of you don't understand ... to stimulate the economy you need to stimulate what runs the economy. Had suddenly government mandated to me that I didn't need to pay taxes, guess what? Instead of depositing that $288,000 into the Washington black-hole, I would have spent it, hired more employees, and generated substantial economic growth. My employees would have enjoyed the wealth of that tax cut in the form of promotions and better salaries. But you can forget it now.

When you have a comatose man on the verge of death, you don't defibrillate and shock his thumb thinking that will bring him back to life, do you? Or, do you defibrillate his heart? Business is at the heart of America and always has been. To restart it, you must stimulate it, not kill it. Suddenly, the power brokers in Washington believe the poor of America are the essential drivers of the American economic engine. Nothing could be further from the truth and this is the type of change you can keep.

So where am I going with all this?

It's quite simple.

If any new taxes are levied on me, or my company, my reaction will be swift and simple. I fire you. I fire your co-workers. You can then plead with the government to pay for your mortgage, your SUV, and your child's future. Frankly, it isn't my problem any more.

Then, I will close this company down, move to another country, and retire. You see, I'm done. I'm done with a country that penalizes the productive and gives to the unproductive. My motivation to work and to provide jobs will be destroyed, and with it, will be my citizenship.

If you lose your job, it won't be at the hands of the economy; it will be at the hands of a political hurricane that swept through this country, steamrolled the constitution, and will have changed its landscape forever. If that happens, you can find me sitting on a beach, retired, and with no employees to worry about....

Your boss

The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to WORK and give to those who are NOT. ~Thomas Jefferson

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

They Were Right

They told me if I voted for McCain, the nation's Hope would deteriorate,
and sure enough there has been a 20 point drop in the Consumer
Confidence Index since the election, reaching a lower point than any
time during the Bush administration.
They told me if I voted for McCain, the US would become more deeply
embroiled in the Middle East, and sure enough tens of thousands of
additional troops are scheduled to be deployed into Afghanistan.
They told me if I voted for McCain, that the economy would get worse and
sure enough unemployment is approaching 8.8% and the new stimulus
packages implemented recently have sent the stock market lower than at
any time since the 1980's.

They told me if I voted for McCain, we would see more "crooks" in high
ranking positions in Federal government and sure enough, several recent
cabinet nominees and Senate appointments revealed resumes of bribery and
tax fraud.

Well I ignored my Democrat friends in November and voted for McCain.
And they were right.... all of their predictions have come true.