Thursday, July 30, 2009

So went Rome, so goes America

I am an amateur student of history. What we are living through these days has only one parallel in western civilization that I can see. That parallel is the Fall of Rome. Now Rome didn't exactly fall, so much as split into two Empires then crumble a quake a lot before melting away. There are valid arguments on both sides of the crash vs. slow decline when discussing both Rome and America. Until we actually have survived it we might have an answer. For now, let's all assume that either case is likely.

So let's see what Rome was like at the end of the 5th century AD.

There was a vast disassociation between the aristocracy and the Plebians (citizens). The ruling families that actually had a chance to be elected to the senate or maneuver themselves into the Throne were in their own world. Does this have a modern counterpart? Try to imagine the top 5% of either party having any sort of commonality with a middle-income or low-income American!

During the 2nd through 5th centuries, the military became more and more integrated, eventually resulting in a large portion of the Legions soldiers coming from German lands. This "Germanization" of the military was touted as one of the main causes for the fall of Roman Empire. Like Rome, the American military is a great way for someone to earn citizenship. At the end of the Empire, almost all of the Legions were "Barbarian." We are no where near that many foreigners in our military, but it is a trend worth noting. Another interesting tidbit is the Empire relied more and more on Mercenaries for their army. How many "defense Contractors" are employed in Iraq and Afghanistan? Another troubling trend is how street gangs join the military for training to use on the street.

There were many, many Barbarian invasions towards the end of Rome. Not to call the Latino Hordes 'Barbarians" but we have no border security. America is rapidly losing it's cohesive identity. Rome suffered similar problems. As the Huns pushed from Mongolia on the Eastern side, the Western borders let loose millions of immigrants into Rome. The Goths, Germanic Tribes. etc all made their homes inside the Empire. Like our immigration problem, these ancient immigrants did not mesh with the Roman Empire for many generations, weakening the bonds of community.

When the waves of immigrants from Europe came over they all learned English. Italian or German immigrants, it didn't matter. But now we have whole swaths of cities and whole regions of the country that do not speak, nor do they intend on learning English. Without a common language, it takes generations to intermix and fully identify yourself and your family as "American." From Cambodian neighborhoods in Lowell, to the Portuguese of Fall River, to the Cape Verdians in Dorchester, to the Brazilians in Sandwich, the many "Chinatowns" in major cities, or most of the southwest of the United States - no one will learn English.

How can we build a community if everyone acts like they are back home? I'm a New Englander, through and through. How many friends would I have if I kept talking and acting like one if I moved to Georgia? That's in the same country, and I'd be an outcast! now multiply that times many thousands. Until we integrate with a common language then we will continue to fracture like the Roman Empire.

Economic theories abound as well. Rome didn't produce many goods. The reliance on importing almost everything, along with the shortage of precious metals is another major contributing factor. Rome needed the metals to mint currency. As the available supplies of metals dropped, they used less and less silver and gold in their coins, which created inflation. For a modern equivalent, our inflation rate over the last decade was averaging above 5%. Like Rome, we don't export much anymore. With the exception of Debt, that is.

A more shocking economic parallel is that of the marginal farmer. In Modern terms think of these guys as small businessmen. The Senate needed to make more money, and Rome didn't have exports, so they raised taxes. Eventually, they raised taxes to the point that the marginal land couldn't be farmed except at a loss, so these farmers abandoned they lands and moved into the cities to eek out a living. Most could not. The Senate thought that the State needed to provide for those too poor to eat with a dole, very much like the American welfare and unemployment systems. How did they pay for these programs? By taxing those farmers who managed to stick to it, of course. Just like today, the Progressives in power make everyone else pay for these programs, while they use every loophole to get out of tier share of the burden.

The writing is on the wall for all to see. Unless there is a return to common sense in government, where the minority doesn't dictate to the majority. then we are a failed state that hasn't gotten around to falling flat on it's face.

There is some debate wether or not this Nation can be saved. I personally feel that it can, but it would require self sacrifice from every citizen. Tough love to those abusing the system. Addiction counseling for the debt-addicts of wall-street and middle America. This pervading sense of entitlement would need to be curtailed, sometimes forcibly. We would all have to be Americans, Americans without hyphens.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Dying of Massachusetts.

I saw a billboard on the ride into work today that stated that $1750 leaves Massachusetts every minute. I didn't get a chance to write down the URL they had under the billboard. Obviously, there is something in Massachusetts that is driving businesses and the wealthy somewhere else.

It turns out that when asked, business leaders rank California, New York, Massachusetts, and New Jersey as the worst places to do business. Citing high taxes and anti-business legislation these business leaders have opened up shop in friendlier states.

Business is the key to a healthy economy. I'm no economist, I'm no great thinker, but common sense dictates to me that there is a synergy between the government, the workforce, and the business that has to fit together for a healthy economy.

The government needs to ensure a fair set of rules and boundaries for businesses to operate in. Impartial courts to settle disputes between businesses, between workers and business and between government and business. The government needs to ensure there is a level playing field for all businesses to have an equal opportunity. Likewise, a business can't use unfair practices to stifle competition, becoming a monopoly. Likewise, there is a framework of rules for business to operate - they cannot be allowed to dump toxic waste into a river, or deforest land so the topsoil erodes away.

Businesses are slaved to supply and demand. They make a product and pay for the raw materials and labor according to supply and demand. Then, they sell thier product slaved to supply and demand. They are taxed on profits to pay for the government.

The workforce has it the easiest. They get paid salary and benefits to work for a business. They then spend thier wages to businesses for food, clothing, entertainment, etc. They are also taxed to pay for the government as well.

Now in Mass, the cost of doing business is higher than in other states. So if your a painting contractor it's not that big a deal. It's not like you are going to pack up your business to go to a different state every time new laws are passed that impact you. But you might.

If your a business that has a great new idea for a product, and have capital backing you via bonds or a stock sale, and you are looking for a location to build a factory, then Massachusetts is towards the bottom of your list. If you have been in business making goods for years and shipping them across the country, and Mass passes a bunch of laws that cost you more profit to stay in business here, then it might be worth closing the Massachusetts factory and building a new one in Colorado. The cost of the new factory is offset by cheaper taxes, and increased efficiency in your new factory. Massachusetts, which depends on business and employed workers for money is the loser, along with the workers in Massachusetts.

To me, it's not hard to get this balance right. But then again, I hold the view that a minimalist government is all we need. Business and industry are what makes a country prosperous. France is the perfect example, with 53%+ of its population employed by the government. In a good economy they lag way behind in thier GDP as they don't really make much to export. In a recession, however, they don't suffer as badly because they print money to pay thier workers. In the end, though, the bill comes due and thier worthless fiat money can't feed anyone.

If America is to survive and prosper in the future, we need to recapture that innovative and frontier spirit that is being drowned under the tide of cheap, Chinese goods. We need to rise up and seize opportunity when it knocks, not milk the system for what we are "entitled" to. We are not entitled to anything except life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. As an extension of the latter, we are entitled to an equal opportunity to make a fair wage. No wide-reaching government meddling in our health care. No taxation so others don't have to work.

The larger a system gets, the more waste it produces in an exponential amount to its size. The larger it gets, the more it wastes. Why does the government has to meddle with health care at all? Why does the government have to provide for retirement? If the Social Security administration was spun off into a private organization in the '70's then it would be showing a profit! Run it like a business, and get it out of the money-grubbing politician's hands. Likewise, if medicare and medicaid were made into private health insurance companies, wouldn't they be healthy enough to survive?

This is why Massachusetts is a failing state. With the current progressive mind set of anti-business, pro-freeloader, there can be no change for the better. Without a fundamental change to bring business into Massachusetts, then the government will need to increase taxes on the workers to pay for the spending programs. Then the migration of talent will escalate, as I can assure you it has already begun in earnest. Eventually all that will be left are the refuse of society, the Leeches, and thier political masters.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Minimum wage

Right now I am very concerned with the unemployment numbers. About 125,000 people enter the workforce a month. These first-time employees don't make it into the unemployment rolls until they get a job, then lose it. We are at 21% unemployment, with no signs of that number turning around. the MSM would love for us to drink the "Kool-Aid of Hope" and believe that only loosing 500,000 jobs a month is improvement.

The Great depression saw unemployment rates of 25%. We are only 4 points away. But yet I am surprised at the lack of crime and lawlessness that I thought 20% unemployment would bring. Maybe it's because I have zero faith in humanity I got this wrong. Or the quality crime investigation or medical dramas that currently fill out airwaves have keep the screaming horde at docile.

I then see all over the news that the minimum wage was raised $.70 an hour. I was speechless, which for me takes a lot. This is such a colossally bad idea that I cannot come up with a euphemism to describe just how bad it is.

Let's take a look at a fictional company that assembles widgets. It has a workforce of 100 people. The workers have a fixed raise of .25 an hour every quarter for the first year. After that it's all merit based, or via promotions to line supervisor, etc. Assume for this argument that these people are not unionized.

Now this raise happens, and 50% of his workforce just got bumped .70 and hour. If I've been there 9 months, I'm only getting .15 an hour more than some noobie off of the street. The company now has about $275/hour in higher expenses from the pay raise, before they give longer term employees raises to keep thier pay in line with thier length of service. (it would be $350 an hour if they were all minimum wage, but assume some were there for 3 months.)

It's far cheaper to force overtime on people than to hire new employees. You don't need to train them, they don't earn additional vacation time or sick days. The social security and unemployment insurance the company pays per employee is saved as well. It's a no brainer.

So this fictional company fires 25 people, and makes the rest work overtime and actually makes more profit. Good job Congress, way to fuck over your green shoots!

This fictional example is based on real life. When I was in high school they raised the minimum wage and this is exactly what happened where I worked. The last thing a government needs to do is penalize small business form hiring employees. This will hamstring your economic recovery, and cripple the largest employers in America - Small Business Owners.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Breaking point?

I had lunch with a good friend yesterday. Well, it was breakfast for me because I worked all night again, but that's a whole 'nother rant. He's a smart guy, and has a young daughter and a wife that's in the medical field.

At one point we were discussing the economy, health care bill, etc and he asked a very pointiant question. What is the tipping point? New Yorkers who make over $225k are going to be paying 57% taxes? At what point does the word revolution creep in?

I was listening to WEEI this morning with the interview of Larry Lucchino, and the hosts were asking him what percentage would Larry be willing to be taxed at by Obama? He declined to answer, but they penciled him in for 80%.

The WEEI morning show are two republican neo-cons. Gerry Callahan is one of those neo-cons who thinks anyone who disagrees with him is a moon-bat liberal. Larry Lucchino is one of the owners of the Boston Red Sox and is as liberal as it gets.

The point is there is definitely a line in the sand somewhere. The way we are taxed now is hard to see whether that's because we turn a blind eye, or because we are unable to consciously perceive it. I'm taxed at 33% or thereabouts in straight income tax. If I added property, gasoline, utilities, sales, etc I'm over 50% easily. Now if my income tax is 57% like those New Yorkers, what's the real tax rate? 70%? 75%? That is flat out insane.

Every chance I get I try to inform anyone who is having a political discussion with me on their REAL tax rate. It's my own personal policy of sedition.

I'm flabbergasted at the political pace Obama is moving at. At his rate he's going to have to start holding meetings while he's on the hopper. He's already "saved the economy" and now he's ramming through this health care bill, and he's got the whole cap & trade thing to save mother earth (and tax business more).

Notice he's slacking on the bigger things though. Israel and Iran are about to have a steel cage match. North Korea are being nitwits again. We are still fighting a "Global War on Terror", an extended military operation in Afghanistan, and we still have a counter-insurgency and pacification operation going on in Iraq.

Notice how no one is chatting about the "war on terror" anymore. Notice Obammy isn't saying shit anymore about an exit strategy from either Iraq or Afghanistan. We would need those troops there to launch another invasion and pacification war in Iran. For all his talk of change, now that he's in the big-boy chair it's more of the same shit.

What is the tipping point? Is it his failing promise to close Gitmo? The additional taxes imposed by this forced healthcare insurance? Israel nuking the bejesus out of Iran in a preemptive strike? North Korea invading South Korea? The published unemployment numbers crossing 10%? What will finally be the last straw that Americans take?

Fiction - Part VII - Natog's Sekret Bunker

The next three days were a frantic blur of activity. The first order of business was to get a heating system running in the house. Without a larger inverter and battery bank, the oil furnace in Natog’s home was a giant paperweight.

Natog had bought a small potbellied wood stove, but he didn’t have any pipe to hook it up in the basement. So that Friday morning Natog was out and about walking around town right after a quick breakfast. He spoke briefly to everyone, just bullshitting about stuff to get a feel of what was going on in town. Stopping by the hardware store, no one was inside.

Leaving a note just in case they were around, Natog made his way around the back of various stores looking for scrap metal he could make pipe out of. It was when he was crossing from behind one building to another when he was stopped an interrogated by a local cop. Thankfully, the cop never got out of the car and frisked Natog. As Natog was carrying his Sig P220, he probably would have had to go to the station at the least. At least the cop let him head back home, but warned him not to be caught sniffing around any of the stores, then he would be brought in for attempted burglary.

It was on the way back home Natog saw some sheet metal beside a run-down home surrounded by junk. Making his way to the front door, he could hear a dog barking inside.

Natog was reaching up to knock on the door when a man’s voice called out “What do you want?”

“Oh hi. I’m a neighbor down the street, and I’d be interested in trading for some of your sheets of scrap metal.”

“What for?”

Natog looked around to see if he could see anyone in the windows, figuring they were just behind the door, he answered “Oh just a fix. My shed is leaking and I wanted to patch it until I could go to Home Depot and buy some tarpaper and shingles.”

“Huh, well I’ll be out in a minute. Meet me by the side of the house.”


Natog walked around the house around various piles of junk and then in between a rusting car on blocks and a Ford Explorer. A 40ish year old man came around the corner just as Natog got to the pile of metal. He was in a stained sweatshirt, jeans and untied workboots. He had a greasy patriots ball cap on, and his face showed the strain of many years of hard work and many regrets. “Let’s get this over with, I’ll freeze my balls off.”

Natog quickly went through the pile, and pulled out two large sheets of thin galvanized steel. “What do you want for these four?”

“Damn, man how big is your shed? Gimmie twenty bucks.”

Natog happily handed over a $20 bill. The man snatched it out of his hand so fast Natog was thankful he was wearing gloves so his fingertips didn’t get friction burns. The man scurried off into the house without saying anything else.

“Thanks!” Natog called out to thin air. Shrugging, Natog picked up his metal and made his way back home.

It took an entire day’s worth of work, but by the end, Natog had connected up the wood stove to his furnace in the basement. The hardest part was making pipe from the sheets of galvanized metal. Using a sandbag and a ball peen hammer with half-a tennis ball to cushion it he beat the piss out of the metal until he had a rough “C” shape. Then using a short piece of pvc as a form he bent it into a tube.

In the basement he pulled out the existing chimney pipe from the oil furnace and re-arraigned it to point to a new direction away from the oil furnace. Luckily, the original installers had additional bends in the run to the furnace to make up for their laziness in moving water pipes. With these extra bends he didn’t need to make any bends himself, although the stove was right next to the chimney, and only 10feet from the oil tank.

Using a piece of paper on the inside of the pipe to figure out the circumference since he didn’t have the internet to look up the formula, Natog cut one of the metal cylinders with an extra three inches to make a seam. Trimming it for length was next, and finally bending the last two inches into a V with the wide part facing the inside of the tube. He bent the last inch of the other side of the seam up 90 degrees. Inserting this tab into the open V started the seam. Once the V was hammered flat on the edge of his workbench, he then folded it over creating an interlocking seam that was air tight once it was sufficiently hammered flat. Taking his homemade pipe into the basement he fitted it into place.

It fit perfectly, after 15 minutes of beating it to death with scrap lumber, the ball peen hammer and a plethora of curses. He then wrapped aluminum foil tape around the joints to make sure they wouldn’t leak exhaust into the room. The tape was rated at 300 degrees, so as long as the stove was kept to a low heat he should be ok, as the first seam was 5 feet off of the stove.
A crude damper was fashioned from a wire coat hanger and a scrap of the metal trimmed to roughly fit. The wire coat hanger was fed through holes punched in the disk and then bent around notches in the metal so the damper wouldn’t fall off inside the pipe.

Throughout the whole process Natog was certain to keep an eye on how the pipes fit together. There couldn’t be any leaks of exhaust gasses into his living area. Carbon Monoxide was a colorless, odorless gas that was a natural byproduct of combustion. It bound itself to the body’s hemoglobin better than oxygen, and as the amount of oxygen was absorbed it slowly suffocated the victim. It was one thing to have a wood stove in a kitchen, but a homemade one in an enclosed basement was a recipe for disaster. Luckily Mum had given Natog a portable CO detector years ago when he lived in a small basement apartment. It was battery powered, so it should sound any alarm before he was incapacitated from the gas.

The next step was to go on a scavenger hunt in the woodshop and the yard for wood. None of the pieces was very large, but since the basement was well-insulated, not much of a fire had to be kept going. The wood from outside needed to dry off, so it was leaned against the wall near the stove.

By the time he had enough wood to last the night it was dark outside and a couple chicken breasts were cooking on the grill. With cold fingers Natog tore a few sheets out of an old phonebook and lit his stove. Adding bits of kindling, he built up a small fire. While the stove started to warm up the basement, Natog cleaned off his fly tying desk and brought down some candles for additional light.

Natog ate at the fly tying desk next to his washing machine, watching an episode of the BBC series “Doctor Who” he had recorded onto his network storage. The Notebook cast a strange light, it was the first LCD he looked at in over two days. Natog had no idea what he would do without his music and movies. If he figured out who spared his electronics from the wrath of whatever event caused the outage, he was fully resolved to give them a big kiss.

By the time he was done with the show, and put the laptop away, it was getting noticeably warmer in the basement. After reloading the wood stove, and stripping off the outer sweatshirt, he began to figure out how to keep as much heat in the main basement room as possible. After rigging up some blankets and hanging the door he took off from the top of the basement stairs when he moved in, things were getting rather snug.

The rest of the night was spent resizing .308 brass. He had 200 or so lake city match brass, and 1000 once fired military brass. Using a trim die and file was a slow process, but there really wasn’t much to do. Plus, the bench was in his warm basement, which was a definite plus. He trimmed the interior flash holes, chamfered the outside of the neck, used a bore brush to clean the inside of the neck, and cleaned the flash hole with a little tool he bought for it. He then got down to removing the military crimp on the brass, which was a very tedious and slow manual process with the tools Natog had. The plan was to load these with 168 grain hunting bullets for his bolt-action rifle.

Natog managed to get his mattress down the basement stairs without breaking anything, or throwing out his back. A second trip brought the sleeping bags and pillows down. The last trip brought down the shotgun and a box of buckshot after making sure all the doors were locked and the dogs had fresh water and food.

Natog added just a little more wood to the fire, knowing it would go out anyways during the night. Before curling up in his sleeping bag, Natog laid out the makings of a fire for the morning.
That night Natog dreamed of many things, but the one thing that he remembered upon waking was surreal. Walking naked across a burnt landscape, Natog had a flaming sword in his right hand, and a tuna fish sandwich in the other. Behind him walked a blurry shadowy host. The clinking of weapons and web gear accompanied the booted feet of the formless soldiers.

After waking and lighting the fire, Natog climbed back into bed and dozed off for another half hour until the dogs started barking upstairs to go out. Running upstairs he let the dogs out.

Digging into his stores, he got out a box of baby wipes. After giving himself a “whore bath” with two of the baby wipes, Natog let out a curse as he forgot his clean socks and underwear upstairs.
The first chore was to get power back up and running. From his garage he brought his generator into the back yard. With a masonry bit in his battery powered drill, he switched it to “hammer drill” mode and drilled a ½ hole a couple inches deep by the back basement window. Using a anchor bolt, he used some heavy chain he had originally used to secure his canoe to the garage foundation to securely lock the generator to the foundation.

Once that was done he got a couple of extension cords from the garage. One he ran to the fridge, the other downstairs in the basement. Filling the generator with gas he had stored, and replacing the oil he drained from the genny when he put it up, he got it started on the second pull. Making sure the fridge was working, he then went to the basement and made sure the two UPS for his computers was charging as well as the battery for his drill. He also plugged in the laptop to charge that battery too.

He made breakfast while keeping his shotgun on the counter. Although the odds were small, he knew from reading about Katrina that nothing brought the sound of thieves faster than a running motor when the power was out.

Making breakfast took his mind off of potential thieves, but eating the last of his eggs made Natog wonder how bad it was going to get. Right on cue as he started washing his dishes there was a loud banging on his front door.

Clutching his shotgun, Natog shouted through the door, “Who is it!”


“Who the FUCK is George?”

“Your neighbor!”

Peeling back the towel he stapled up to black out the window, Natog carefully peered out of the window. Standing there in a parka and the dorkiest winter hat Natog has ever seen was his neighbor from across the side street. George was a man in his early 40’s with three kids, a punk teenage son, a tween daughter and another pre-teen daughter. George was of average weight for his 5’10” frame, but looked pudgier because of his poor posture.

George was fanatical about mowing his lawn. He mowed it crosshatched, like the baseball fields in the major league ballparks. Natog watched the neighbor one day with a ruler measuring the grass. Through the neighborhood grapevine Natog learned George despised Natog because of his lack of regular mowing. Compounding the problem was that George never returned a wave, and always went into his house whenever Natog walked over to say hi.

Natog didn’t like George.

“Oh yeah, the lawn Nazi. Hold on a second.” Natog flicked the safety back on the shotgun and put it in the hall closet. After adjusting his holster with the Sig in it, he unbolted the door and let George in.

Stamping his feet on Natog’s carpet, he pulled a glove off, and gave Natog a limp handshake. “Nice to meet you.”

“Ahhhh… What can I do for you?” Natog was staring at the puddle of mud and slush on his carpet.

“Well, I heard your generator, and your right across the street, so I was hoping we could plug in so we could microwave some food and give the kids some TV.”

“Well nice to finally meet you, George. Now good day.”

“What?” George looked perplexed and a little hurt.

“I don’t enough fuel to run a microwave and TV for the kids, sorry.”

George raised his voice, “But we need power, to run the fridge! And the kids are driving me crazy.”

“I’m sorry, but that isn’t my problem.”

“But, why not? It’s the neighborly thing to do.” George realized the mistake as soon as the words left his mouth with the fierce, almost feral look in Natog’s eyes.

“Neighborly, you talk about neighborly! Fuck you! I tried to talk with you a dozen times and you always walk away, you badmouth me to the rest of the ‘hood, about my lawn. Is that neighborly?” George tried to stammer out a reply, but Natog cut him off. “You have shown a complete lack of respect for me, and you expect me to give you a big handout? Huh?”

“Well, no I can pay for the gas. I wasn’t looking for a handout. I…”

“Bullshit. You came over to mooch power. What do you have to trade?”

“George looked a little lost, well I have some cash. I’ll give you $20 for the gas.”

Natog sighed. “Look, money is no good here. Go home to your family. Collect ice from the pond to keep your fridge cold.”

“But my kids are driving me crazy! Why should I collect ice when you have a generator?”
“To be honest, because I was smart enough to buy a generator...”

“Well I...” George stammered before getting cut off again.

“Now, I never complained about your kids making a racket after I worked 3rd shift. I never pissed and moaned to anyone about your punk kid leaving burnouts in the street on his rice rocket. So you can get the fuck out of my house. I catch you or anyone in your family on my property and we are going to have a big fucking problem. You get me?”

“That’s not a very Christian attitude!”

“Actually it is. Now good day, sir.”

“I just need …”

Natog shouted “I said good day, sir!” and took a few steps toward George. He stumbled out the door, and retreated across the lawn.

He watched George cross the street and head to his side door. George paused before opening the door to his house and gave Natog a half hearted middle finger.

“Took you that long to work up the nut to do that huh?” Natog shouted as George went inside. Natog noticed movement in the drapes as George’s kid was watching Natog with a sullen look. Closing the door, he went back to finishing his dishes.

Natog played some videogames on his pc for a little while, then collected up the extension cords and shut down the generator. After the muffler and engine block had cooled down, he carefully wrapped it in a tarp to protect it from the elements.

Taking some fishing line, he tied it to the leg of the generator, then pushed it against the house to conceal the chain. Opening the window in front of the sink, he snaked the fishing line inside the house, then closed the window. After checking the fishing line easily pulled through the weather seal of the window, Natog took a empty soda can from the recycling bin and dropped some pennies into it. Placing the soda can on the edge of a counter, Natog tied the fishing line to it. A slight tug on the line resulted in a loud crash from the falling soda can. Resetting the alarm, he felt it was loud enough to wake him up if someone messed with the genny.

Locking the shotgun back up in the safe, Natog pulled on his outerwear, and went out into the bright morning. Kids were still running through the neighborhood playing in the snow. The sky was clear and cold, but the air was foul with the smell of burning plastic.

Natog set out on a tour of the neighbors, to make sure they were ok, and to see if anyone had any news.

All his friendly neighbors were ok, and, Frank, a retired NY cop, was doing better than he was. They were making roast beef for dinner, with all the fixings. They had a generator in the garage hooked up with a transfer switch and a propane tank for fuel. They invited Natog over for dinner, but he had to bring some butter, as they were out. Natog readily accepted.

The rest of the day was spent loading rounds in the basement, keeping the stove going, and listening to his iPod thought some computer speakers. Natog had some butter in the fridge, and some frozen dinner rolls he was going to cook for the next gaming night.

Turns out most of the neighborhood had been invited, with the noticeable exception of George and his family. Natog mused that he wasn’t the only person George had pissed off. Frank, his host openly carried a Glock .40, and made it clear that it was quite acceptable for Natog to carry in his home. Denise, his wife was confined to a wheelchair, but would beat anyone with an extra long wooden spoon at any offer of help.

Before dinner, four families were crammed into the small living room trying to get any signal from his TV or radio. All were filled with static. His satellite box was fried, and wouldn’t power on. Wild rumors and speculation filled the conversation between the neighbors before dinner.

Dinner was eaten wherever anyone could find a spot to eat. No one worked as far away as Boston, so Natog filled everyone in what he saw in his exodus from the city. Marty, from behind Natog’s house, saw similar effects in New Bedford, and his wife, who worked in Providence, figured only 1 in 10 cars were working. She was lucky enough to catch a ride from a co-worker to Fall River, then catch a ride from a State Trooper the rest of the way home.

Marty’s wife Susan had baked chocolate chip cookies for dessert, and they didn’t last long. Jill, a single mother with two kids lived on the other side of Franks had brought a box of hot chocolate and coffee. After dessert, the conversation turned to worrying about the future. Natog and Frank insisted crime would go up sharply. The other families were more worried about how they were going to get food and water.

More speculation, but no real answers to that question filled the rest of the night. Everyone agreed that in two nights they would get together for dinner again. Natog had a package of chicken breasts in the freezer he was willing to pony up, Marty had a bag of potatoes, and frank had some canned veggies.

With the date set, the families returned home. Before leaving, Natog made sure they didn’t need help with any dishes or anything. Then he gave a sharp yelp as he was smacked in the bottom with a wooden spoon.

Natog was awoken at 7am by a banging on the door, and the dogs going spastic upstairs. Tossing on some clothes he managed to get to the door before they kicked it in.

“Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Whatcha want?” Natog shouted through the door.

“Police, could you open the door?”

Natog had a single vision in his head of the old lady getting the shit kicked out of her for a little pistol during the Katrina Disaster. Natog had a huge automatic on his hip.

“Can’t do it, dogs are all worked up. What can I do for you?”

Natog could hear the disappointment in the cop’s voice. “Just letting you know there is a 6pm curfew in effect from now on, and the grocery store will, be opening tomorrow at noon. Bring cash, only fifty bucks per family worth of food a week.”

“Oh, OK officer! Thanks for the information.”

“Remember, 6pm curfew.”

“Yes, sir.”

After he heard the officers walk off, he peeked out the window, and saw officers canvassing the neighborhood, all in obvious tactical gear under their duty parkas. Two officers had Sig assault rifles slung over their shoulders. Flyers were being stapled up onto telephone poles and flyers placed on the doors of houses no one was at.

“Guess they brought out the heavy artillery.” Natog mused to his dogs. “Ok out you go!”

Natog spent the day alternating between chores and goofing off. He ran the generator another 4 hours, and even got Marty hooked in too. He scavenged more wood from around the yard and set that to dry out in the basement. He managed to get half a game of Civilization IV played before his 4 hours was up. He then collected his chainsaw and gear and loaded it into the truck for tomorrow. He finished loading 100 rounds for the .308 bolt-action, and sealed the primers and bullets with some stuff he bought just for that purpose. He also prepped about 200 of the brass for his M1A, but didn’t get to load much.

And with that done, he went to bed. He noticed without a lot of artificial light, he was going to bed earlier and earlier, but waking up at the same time, just after sunrise. Natog wasn’t looking forward to the hard day’s work cutting wood tomorrow, that was certain, but Mum needed the wood.

Monday, July 20, 2009

National ID

I've been opposed to the idea of a national ID card for a long time. This article from merry England is showing what the nanny state's citizens get with that ID card. the government keeps tabs on your big purchases, you know - to prevent fraud - then matches your purchases to your income level to see if your cheating the tax man.

Priceless. Just Priceless.

There is no reason for any federal documentation by my purchases - including firearms. The only possible exceptions would be explosives, undetectable poisons, Enriched Uranium / Plutonium, and nasty diseases - Ebola, HIV, Hepatitis, etc. for research. That's it. It's not supposed to be the fed's job for any of this, but there needs to be a centralized structure in case someone buys stuff in separate states to make a nuke.

Throughout history, governments love to spy on it's own population. Usually under the guise to "prevent crime." today is no different as the feds use web crawlers to read web sites, read our e-mails with Carnivore, and who knows what else. All of this I personally feel is over the line.
We have enough intrusions into our privacy without .gov tracking our every purchase of $X. As our net-presences grow, expect the feds to come barging in with a heavy hand until a court tosses out a few high-profile cases and .gov is reined back in. By then the precedents have been set, and another part of your life is monitored.

The National ID card comes up every now then in our congress. Eventually I fear it will pass and then we will be in for a whole new level of Big Brother. There is a clip on YouTube about the National ID card and how the health care companies will use it to up your pizza costs by having high cholesterol and a "fat tax" on the sausage pizza. I'm at a clients so I can't go looking for it.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Socialist Healthcare Agenda

First off, I am very sorry for dropping off of the face of the earth. Work has been unrelenting along with some special projects for friends, and searching for another job have all kept me too busy to read blogs, never mind post one.

There has been many stories in the news about making health care a right. There is a 1000 page bill being rammed through Congress right now about it. Locally in Boston we can see where this leads. Boston Medical Center is a merger between City Hospital and University Hospital. It's a non-profit hospital that treats the poor and uninsured of Boston.

Now that the government is cutting back on the money reimbursed, the hospital is not going to be able to keep treating patients without uncle sugar's help. Now B.M.C. is suing the State to keep providing free health care. So the state will have to tax someone more to raise the cash to pay for the free health care.

Now to guarantee health care as a right is so stupid it is beyond me. the US healthcare system would be unable to cope with the flood of new claims. Think about the level of entitlement that people have now. Add the right for free health care and watch everyone flock to the emergency room for every little boo-boo because they have a right to see a doctor.

Mien Gott, it's going to be a zoo. I can just see some woman yelling that her civil rights are being violated because it took 2 hours for a over-worked doctor in an understaffed ER to look at her sprained ankle. Watch the lawyers run through the streets like wild dogs to get that case.

We have our rights covered by the Constitution. If we add to these willy-nilly eventually everyone will have a right to a 50" plasma TV. Healthcare is very important, but it is not the State's job to provide it.

As a child my parents used discretion when bringing myself or my brother in. We had health insurance, but that's no excuse to go to the ER for every little thing. We got the care we needed including regular doctor office visits without any hassle. If we needed to go to the doctor we could get an appointment that afternoon or the next morning. No problem.

Now, to see my primary care physician, I need to schedule out 6 months in advance, unless I'm real sick then they tell me to go to the ER where I can wait all day before getting in. How is this better? Now my health insurance costs a fortune, and my doctor tries to schedule as many visits as possible so he can tweak the billing to the health insurance company without raising any flags. He overcharges for my care so it covers his loss when he gets boned out of payments on another patient. It's too screwed up to even describe properly. Health insurance companies tell doctors how to treat patients by publishing what they will pay out. So on a list somewhere it will say

Broken arm $5000

And even if it's a compound fracture with massive trauma, the health insurance company is going to point to the list and say $5000 not a cent more. So the doctors charge everyone the maximum amount so they can offset the losses. It is pure stupidity. No insurance company should dictate my heath care.

This is what these socialist policies will bring. The doctors will be unable to maintain their practices unless they can toe the line when treating patients. Talk to people from the UK & Canada about health care. Ask them why they come to America for major surgeries. There was just an article the other day about how arthritis treatments take 9 months to get in the UK. This is the Socialist agenda: shitty service for everyone. Turning a house of healing into the DMV.