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I predict a major social change because of the war

How do you pay for an expensive overseas war and bring value back to a falling dollar? Simple. You reduce your countries infrastructures costs, add workers to the populace to increase gross national product, create a livable wage for those same workers for taxable income, and create a high demand product to encourage the citizenry to purchase taxable goods. Personally I would add impeach a president to the list.

These things are coming! (well…maybe not the impeachment) And your politicians have already begun the game of wag the dog to get you to accept the reduced infrastructure costs, new workers, different tax structure, and focus on purchasing a highly taxable product. The spin war is on because it is going to be a vicious one and a very hard sell because the government has been selling you a different bill of goods for almost 50 years. See, the reduced infrastructures cost will come by releasing roughly 800,000 inmates from prison.

…would save taxpayers an estimated $20 billion per year…[Source, Unlocking America: Why and How to Reduce America’s Prison Population, page 7]

It is these same 800,000 inmates who will be the new workers adding to the GNP which means these 800,000 people would be producing taxable income.

What of the product? The product must be inexpensive to produce otherwise the savings from releasing the prisoners is negated. Ideally the product should already exist and be high demand with the general populace. The United States has just such a product. It is a product that no one uses yet you cannot swing a stick in a crowd without hitting someone who does use it. The product is marijuana. No one admits to using it yet it seems like everyone around you uses it socially or medicinally from time to time. Even our presidents use it! They just don’t inhale.

My prediction is that in the next decade we will see significant pressure by politicians to encourage legalization of marijuana for all the reasons stated above plus more. By encouraging the use of hemp for cloth, paper, ropes, and so many other uses, we will make better use of the land with higgher quality products (see 200 year old hemp nightgown looks like new). Watch the news. California will lead followed by Colorado and Nevada. Tennessee will follow closely since TN produces quite a lot of crops. Mark my word. As soon as the government can deprogram society from the believe that marijuana is bad (remember, marijuana was lobbied into illegality by the paper companies – apparently it is supposed to do less harm to the body than drinking alcohol), you will see marijuana sold either over the drug store counters or beside the cigarettes in the grocery stores.

See also: Decriminalizing Pot Will Reduce Prison Population, Have No Adverse Impact On Public Safety, Study Says

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Poor people cannot spend money smarter

Update Oct 29, 2008: The Federal poverty levels have been increased slightly.

Narration: [audio:]

Last night I found myself staring at the pain medicine shelf in two stores. I wasn’t happy with the prices at CVS and I needed some food items so I switched to Food $*itty. With a 7 person household, I often shop bulk but the food companies play tricks and sometimes the larger container costs more than buying two smaller containers so I tend to scrutinize prices.

20 Tylenol PM geltabs cost $3.99 on sale from the normal $4.99 price. 40 Tylenol PM geltabs cost $7.49. Food City didn’t sell larger quantities than that but CVS has 150 geltabs somewhere around $15. With this product, it makes sense to buy bulk.

If you live a penny wise lifestyle, the choice is easy; buy the largest container with the greatest savings. Not only will be it longer before you have to replenish (and that time going to the store is time you could be spending making money) but you will have saved money! To get the equivalent 40 geltabs in the smaller container means spending $7.98 (49 cents more) which is a 6.5% difference. That’s more money than you can earn at your bank!

Why don’t the poor buy the larger container? Simple! Because they are limited by their resources (or lack of resources). If you are trying to stretch a dollar to the next payday, you aren’t going to spend "more" for the larger container when that extra $3.50 is going to buy the bag of frozen fish sticks which feeds the family until that next payday.

I want to see poverty abolished. That does not mean everyone lives in mansions. Poverty is not having money to pay for electricity, food, shelter, clothing, etc. A person living in a mansion can find themselves in poverty although one could argue that they could sell their worldly goods to escape the poverty prison. I feel our society is designed to keep the poor down (amz). If the utility company (power, cable, phone..they all do it) cuts you off, they typically charge you the past due balance, plus a late fee, plus a reconnection fee, plus the following months anticipated bill. What about interest? If a family couldn’t afford to pay the portion of the past due to keep the utility, how are they supposed to pay the full past due, plus a future bill, plus a service fee?! They do it by failing to pay someone else who then punishes them the same way with fees, interest, penalties, connection fees, and deposits. So, why don’t they just spend smarter and stay out of this situation? Because the situation does not give them the economic power to spend smart to avoid the situation. Poverty is a classic Catch-22 (amz).


What’s that you ask, Yossarian? Oh, I bought the smaller $3.99 bottle of 20 pills. All of Food $*itty’s larger bottles had a warning that they were not intended for households with small children.

See also: A taste of poverty

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Say NO to speed cameras

I was against red light cameras (and still am! $2 million TN dollars went to TX because of Redflex!) and I sure am against speed cameras. Speed trapping makes roads dangerous! Roads should be predictable. We don’t need people slamming on their brakes for police cars and cameras. Sometimes to avoid a problem it is safer to speed up then slow down even if that means hopping above the speed limit. An officer can see, "that truck was about to sideswipe him and he avoided it by speeding up." A camera cannot make that judgment.

I often drive fast on the Interstate. It is safe because the relative speed of traffic is the same and visibility can be several miles. I don’t drive recklessly. There is a huge difference between driving fast and driving recklessly. A slow driver can drive recklessly. In town, I tend to drive the speed limit. I recognize the lights have been timed such that you will make little gain by speeding in town. The few seconds you shorten your trip by speeding is not worth the danger you place pedestrians and other drivers in within the unpredictable confines of busy roads.

Speed cameras and red light cameras are profit tools for public, tax funded law enforcement. We don’t need them! We fix traffic problems through better civil engineering (narrow roads, curves in roads, reduction of traffic signs, removal of speed limits, etc.) and through education. Could you imagine the impact it would have if a police officer pulled you over for speeding and instead of giving you a ticket brought a video player to your car and forced everyone in the car to watch a 15 minute educational video on how speeding wastes fuel, puts unnecessary wear and tear on the vehicle, places people at unnecessary risk, and reduces travel time by less than a few minutes than staying under the speed limit? The 15 minute delay per incident may be reason enough to slow down. But even if the message did not reach the driver, perhaps it would get through to some of the passengers and then you’ve made a difference. Will a bill in the mail have that same impact?

UPDATE: Michael Silence has put up a poll to see if Knoxville wants speed cameras. When I took it, 86% said no.

Update: UT to probe ethics of using traffic cameras. Think about the other cameras we can have in our future "beeeep Our facial recognition software has identified you as Jane Doe. You have been standing in the same spot for 5 minutes and one second which constitutes loitering under ordinance w37704. A fine of $45 has automatically been assessed to your cell phone bill."

Related: Google is mapping Knoxville. How will you be immortalized for the world to view? Do speed cameras change driving habits? See Driving Patterns – Let the Ass Merge.

Update: More details including Chattanooga’s numbers.

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No it doesn’t grow on trees

Apparently a handful of people think that I have an ATM* shoved up my ass. There is no bank in my rectum and despite your belief that I have done it before, I cannot pull cash out of it. If you insist on probing this yourself, double up on the Crisco, and at least be courteous enough to provide a little reach-around. Thanks!

*Quick semantic discussion. ATM stands for Automated Teller Machine so if you find yourself "getting cash out of the ATM machine" stop! You are either getting cash out of the "ATM" or the "AT Machine." That said "automated" really implies "machine" so even ATM is redundant before people tack the word "machine" to the end turning an ATM into an ATMM "automated teller machine machine." Really we should simply "visit the AT" Of course, I think our Oak Ridge friend would get irritated if people just started walking up to him and poked him on the chest several times only to get annoyed that cash wasn’t flowing out of his ass. I can picture that scene! "Hey AT! Haven’t seen you in a while. Would you mind dropping trou after I play with your nipples? I want to see if there’s anything green between your cheeks."

And why yes, I am in a little bit of a mood today otherwise I would not have published a post that includes the words ass, rectum, probing, Crisco, and reach-around. Thanks for asking! But don’t worry honey, I’ve vented on the Internet so you and the kids don’t have to avoid me today.

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Independent Consulting On Your Time

Ah! The grass is always greener on the other side. If you are in the corporate world, you dream of working for yourself either as a consultant or having your own business. As a consultant or business owner, you long for the simplicity of an 8-5 job with its predictable income, insurance, and assumed stability. The dream of escaping corporate drudgery to freelance is often envisioned with copious free time, barrels of money, setting your own schedule, recovering vacations lost to corporate deadlines, quality time spent with the children, and cutting the yard while advising your client via cellphone for an outrageous hourly fee. The truth of the matter is that a consultant/freeagent has to plan for 20% more time than a regular employee. Yes, that means working for yourself you should plan for a 6 day work week OR 5 ten and half hour work days.

Attitudes change also. The corporate world might have some flexibility in hours. Some people may work 7-4 while others work 10-6 but the world generally expects the business to be open 8-5. When you work for yourself, the world generally expects you to be open 24/7. The world is also shrinking. Right now I am working on a project for a client who is 6 hours ahead of me. That means their day is over one hour from now and if I want that critical progress payment I have one hour to show them the milestone has been met. A couple of weeks ago, I was working with a client 11 hours ahead of me. I also had a client whose corporate offices were 8 hours behind me while their US offices where 3 hours behind me but I received the work through another office which was 1 hour behind me. If you do not set your business hours then it is easy to be sucked into world time and you can easily find yourself trying to be that 24/7 person (ie. exhausted). As a 24/7 person, if you work from your house, you could find clients coming to your door to interrupt dinner, find you in your pajamas, or sunbathing naked in the backyard. Set hours! Most importantly, respect the hours and keep them. If you declare an 8-5 day, you had better be working 8-5. Setting communication hours for IM, email, and phone will also help your productivity (I don’t follow any of these suggestions).

Now, time to defy the laws of physics and make an impossible amount of progress in the next hour. Thank goodness for the television babysitter!

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Stressed? See the Sheriff

Nothing takes a stressful day and heightens it quiet like having a visit from the Sheriff’s department first thing in the morning. So we are late out the door to get Sarah to school. Evan, Molly and I lead out and I see a non-descript car sitting in the cove. Driver spots me and rolls over to the driveway. Oh hell. I prepare myself for bad news. Sure enough, it’s a deputy here to serve a summons to court on a bad debt but not for me. He gets out. Molly lunges and barks (brilliant!). He’s looking for my ex-wife and despite the number of times I have communicated back to the company trying to collect on her that she hasn’t been here for the better part of a decade, they still tried to serve her at this address. The deputy was very kind and polite and offered to riddle the records with notes that she doesn’t live here. He said hopefully the collection agency will stop bothering us.

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Immigration Laws Keep Me Unemployed

Over the past year I made several attempts to get out of consulting and back into the corporate world. By being a consultant for a decade, I have evolved a fascinating set of skills which should make me invaluable to most tech companies. However, all interviews ended without an offer.

But immigration laws pertaining to the hiring of foreign workers in the States are tight. And firms have to prove that they can’t find anyone in their back yard to do the jobs they need to fill, before casting their gaze abroad.

This is why U.S. firms hire consultants to publish classified job ads in local U.S. papers, with goal of not finding any applicants.


See more comments on the video.

Albeit interesting, that video and information actually has nothing to do with me failing to nail a corporate job. The jobs I missed had more to do with concerns that I could not switch from consulting back to cubeville and a couple required me to do some free work which did not fit into my schedule. Frankly, I failed to market myself well. I believe anyone with a decent skill set can find a good paying job particularly in the tech world.