Monday, March 30, 2009

The Stock Market

So, how does the stock market work? To put it simply, companies choose to go public and issue shares because they need money. One of the first types of stocks was issued by traders who wanted to finance expeditions to India and China. Such a project was naturally very risky and really expensive, but if the expedition turned out to be a success and managed to bring silk, porcelain, spices, tea and other rare and valuable commodities to Europe the traders would become immensely rich. If, on the other hand, the ship would sink, be hijacked by pirates, or something similar, all the money invested in the project would be lost. High risk and high potential rewards. In order to gain sufficient founding, a trader could allow wealthy persons to invest in the project. If the expedition turned out to be a success, the investor would receive a specified share of the profit. If the ship sunk or failed in some other fashion, the money invested would be lost. Unlike a normal loan, each investor would take the risk here and if the ship sunk, they could not force the trader to pay back any money. If you can understand this basic concept, you are actually well on your way of understanding how our modern stock market works. How does the stock market work? Like 17th century trading expeditions! (stockmarket.nu)

Okay... I get that. However, I don't really understand all this Dow and points stuff. Why do the numbers drop so drastically and then go back up? Why does all this affect our economy?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Spring Break

My daughter has been home on Spring Break this week and our son's break is next week. I'm not sure if I'll be posting here over the next ten days or so. Just to let ya know.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The 9-12 Project

Glenn Beck launched the 9-12 Project last Friday on his television show.

Mission Statement

This website is a place for you and other like-minded Americans looking for direction in taking back the control of our country. It is also a place to find information that will assist you in navigating the rough waters we face in the days, weeks and months ahead.

We suggest that you start in your own homes. Talk to your family about the Values and Principles. Discuss the importance of what the Founders designed for America.

Hold or attend a weekly meeting in your neighborhood or town. Communication with your neighbors is vital to the process of protecting our country. Gather in living rooms, coffee houses or restaurants. Share your thoughts and ideas.

Visit this website often. Make use of the resources that are linked here. Share the ideas and resources that have worked in your home or town.

This is a non-political movement. The 9-12 Project is designed to bring us all back to the place we were on September 12, 2001. The day after America was attacked we were not obsessed with Red States, Blue States or political parties. We were united as Americans, standing together to protect the greatest nation ever created.

That same feeling – that commitment to country is what we are hoping to foster with this idea. We want to get everyone thinking like it is September 12th, 2001 again.

Ask yourself these questions:

*Do you watch the direction that America is being taken in and feel powerless to stop it?
*Do you believe that your voice isn’t loud enough to be heard above the noise anymore?
*Do you read the headlines everyday and feel an empty pit in your stomach…as if you’re completely alone?

If you’ve answered YES, then you’ve fallen for the Wizard of Oz lie. While the voices you hear in the distance may sound intimidating, as if they surround us from all sides—the reality is very different. Once you pull back the curtain, you realize that there are only a few people pressing the buttons, and their voices are weak. The truth is that they don’t surround us at all.

We surround them.

At the origin of America, our Founding Fathers built this country on 28 powerful principles. These principles were culled from all over the world and from centuries of great thinkers. We have distilled the original 28 down to the 9 basic principles.

So, how do we show America what’s really behind the curtain? Read the nine simple principles. If you believe in at least seven of them, then we have something in common.

The 9-12 website is well worth checking out and has much food for thought.

Friday, March 13, 2009

The Gig Is Up



Populist lawyer, Gary Fielder, presents “The Gig Is Up: Money, the Federal Reserve and You." Live from Wolfe Hall at The University of Colorado School of Law, on December 4, 2008, Mr. Fielder, a criminal and constitutional lawyer from Denver, Colorado, presents a power point and video presentation on the creation of money with an historical analysis of our current banking system. With quotes from Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Abe Lincoln, Ron Paul, Dennis Kucinich and many others, Fielder makes his case to abolish the Federal Reserve and return to a sound and honest money system. Fractional Reserve Banking. Currency. Amero. World Government. International Banking. www.gigisup.net Produced by Jack Creamer, Side 3 Studios, Denver, Colorado. Video edits by Jonathan Ellinoff. Technical Assistant, Rye Miller. This video is for educational purposes only. Admission was not charged, nor will any effort be made to profit from its production or sale. The DVD is free.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Court Ruling Against Homeschoolers in North Carolina

A North Carolina judge has ordered three children to attend public schools this fall because the homeschooling their mother has provided over the last four years needs to be "challenged."

The children, however, have tested above their grade levels – by as much as two years.

The decision is raising eyebrows among homeschooling families, and one friend of the mother has launched a website to publicize the issue.

The ruling was made by Judge Ned Mangum of Wake County, who was handling a divorce proceeding for Thomas and Venessa Mills.

To read the full article go here.

The judge, when contacted by World Net Daily, explained his goal in ordering the children to register and attend a public school was to make sure they have a "more well-rounded education."

"I thought Ms. Mills had done a good job [in homeschooling]," he said. "It was great for them to have that access, and [I had] no problems with homeschooling. I said public schooling would be a good complement."


The judge said the husband has not been supportive of his wife's homeschooling, and "it accomplished its purposes. It now was appropriate to have them back in public school."

This ruling is of concern to me due to the fact that we homeschooled for nine years. I believe that parents are responsible to see that their children are educated, whether that be through public school, private school or homeschooling. For me, this means that if the public school is failing your child that you need to get involved and fight for your child or find other alternatives. That is what we did.

For a judge to say that the homeschooling the mother provided needs to be challenged is an infringement on the rights/responsibilities of parents and I'm afraid this case will set a bad precedent. It just smacks of children belonging to the state mentality. So often people spout about children needing to have a balanced education and social setting. The public school system does not even address religion/spirituality and the socialization that goes on in schools is not necessarily a good thing. When in life are you ever only around those of the exact age? Never. That only occurs in school. Are there times when children would be better off in school? Yes. There are homeschoolers out there that aren't homeschooling. I am not one of those that is against testing or having some sort of accountability. I just think that you have to be very careful where court rulings and bills about homeschooling are concerned.

The Mills are getting divorced due to the father's adultery. When we were living in Mississippi there was a gal in our homeschool support group that was in the middle of a nasty divorce. Her husband was a heart surgeon and she had previously been the VP of a company (I cannot remember what type of business it was... I think it may have been a company involved in research of some sort). She had a Bachelors, Masters and PhD in Mathematics. He was an uninvolved father who didn't want his kids homeschooled out of spite. We moved away before the case was settled and I don't know what happened.

Homeschooling is very difficult in many ways. Often times you have family members that are very much opposed. I cannot imagine attempting to homeschool without the support of my husband. What do you do in cases where a couple is divorcing? I do believe that fathers should have just as much say as mothers where their children are concerned, unless they don't pay child support. It seems to me, though, that in the case of the Mills that the judge has made the decision from an anti-homeschooling bias. These children have been homeschooled the last four years, are testing 1-2 grades higher and are involved in extra curricular activities. The combination of the trauma of their parents divorce and being forced into public school could be disastrous.

If this ruling makes you uneasy... check out parentalrights.org.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Frustrated

How can the average American be informed without being swallowed up into the He Said/She Said type crap that goes on between the political parties in this country? It is easier to shut it out and focus on your own life. I know, I did it for years. The problem is that by shutting it out and not paying attention people get elected through sound bytes rather than facts. If you are like me, waking up late in the game, it is all overwhelming and it's easy to feel helpless. Even though I want to go back to not thinking about any of this, I can't.

The whole stem cell thing is really getting to me. I cannot stand to hear misinformation constantly being fed to the public. President Bush only had a ban on federally funded embryonic stem cell research. He actually allowed federally funded research limited to already existing embryos. Privately funded research has been ongoing. Great strides have been made in adult stem cell research that is very promising. Much more so than embryonic stem cell research. The push is because in theory the embryonic cells can be programmed to become any kind of tissue whereas the adult stem cells are more limited. That research has showed that the embryonic stem cell created tissue forms tumors. I just don't get the mentality that sees government funding of research as a right and/or the lack of government funding as impeding progress.

Furthermore, what is with the U.S. providing funding for abortions in other countries? Not only do those of us that are against abortion have to participate in it through our taxes here in the U.S. but now, throughout the world? Isn't there something wrong with this picture?

What about Cap and Trade bills? These measures would set limits on carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel use. The effect of such a cap would be to impose rationing of coal, oil, and natural gas on the American economy. That would increase energy costs and do considerably more economic harm than environmental good. Interestingly, nearly every European country that is a participant in the Kyoto Protocol has higher emissions than when the treaty was signed in 1997 and they are rising at a rate faster than the U.S. For consumers, cap and trade means more expensive gasoline and electricity as well as net job losses in energy-dependent sectors. Such energy cost increases act as a regressive tax on the poor. Is this something that should be aggressively sought in our current economic circumstances?

There is so much going on that it is impossible for me to take it all in. It seems to me that there should be some sort of prioritization where the most critical issues are taken care of first. We all knew we were in for a change but those changes are so many and so fast that my head is spinning. Ugh... sorry, it seems my post is just a rant today.

Monday, March 9, 2009

I Don't Understand...

Why would we allow countries, such as China, to buy our debt? I. Just. Don't. Understand.

Is this anything like the companies that buy housing loans?

What happens if we can't pay China back?

I don't get it.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Where to go from Here?

I am feeling so very... uneducated. LOL! I am a bit overwhelmed by everything in the news, everything that isn't in the news and all of the great gaping holes in my understanding of what is happening in our country... and in the world around us.

I need to step back and pick one area to concentrate on and move from there. I just can't decide which area.

The obvious choice would be economics... the how, what, and why of where we are at right now. It is hard for me to move from understanding to explaining... well, probably because I'm not fully understanding everything.

I'm very interested in history and how it ties in to today. But... there is so much I don't know.

I'm very interested in the history of the middle east and how that ties in to what is happening today... and what it could mean in the future.

What would YOU like to see discussed on this blog? If you do not want to leave a comment here you can e-mail me at coffeebeankel@earthlink.net .

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The Role of Government and Definition of Freedom

OSO left the following comment on yesterday's post:

The ability to care for the weak and helpless define us as a civilisation. Our inability to help defines us too.

Our wage, our income, does not come to us because we deserve it. It is not due to our hard work or skill. It comes to us because the "market" determines its value, and the market is not concerned with fairness or wellbeing.

Our income comes to us based upon hidden subsidies found in a civil, ordered society. Without police, judges, teachers, doctors, nurses and a multitude of others paving the way, our income would be less.

We owe society for the income it gives us. We owe society for not breaking down. We owe society for preventing crime in our area. We owe society for an educated population, who can make better decisions that benefit us directly and indirectly, financially and not financially.

A country exists as a group of people, not as a canvass for a person's selfishness. The US Constitution was written for a group of people, not for one person.

There are many ways that community can band together and improve things for all. The most normal way is for tax revenue to be raised to pay for things that keep society together (roads, schools, law & order, health, etc). Without this cost being incurred through tax, the individual cost of coping with the inevitable societal breakdown would be much higher.

And it therefore stands to reason that those who benefit most from the market should in turn be made to pay proportionally more - for without society providing the peace the rich person may never have gotten rich in the first place.

I responded to him in the comment section of that post. I will admit that I found parts of this comment offensive. In reality, this boils down to a difference in thought in regard to government and the role it should/should not have in our society. It is almost as if conservatives are coming across as not agreeing with any kind of tax at all... that is not the case. It is about how those tax dollars are spent and about how much in taxes should be taken. There also seems to be an inability to understand that our tax system is and has been set up to where those who make more pay more. It leads me to believe that the thought is more communistic than socialist in that any and all differences in ability should not be recognized through income.

Questions:

1. What do you see as the ideal role of government?

2. What is your definition of freedom?

3. What is your opinion on what OSO had to say?

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Fairness

President Obama's US Trade Nominee Ron Kirk owes about $10,000 in taxes. Isn't he the 5th nominee with such problems?

Personal responsibility/accountability sure doesn't seem to mean much these days.

Did you ever whine to your parents when you were a kid about stuff you thought was unfair? I did. They always told me, "Life isn't fair."

My little brother and I were on a swim team together for several years. He excelled in most everything he did, academically and physically. At the end of the season we had a big party and a few awards and trophies would be given out. It was a pretty big deal if you got a trophy. For each trophy that was given they gave out a certificate for the person who was essentially the first runner up for the trophy... or second best.

My last season I received the certificate for every stroke. Four second places. My little brother got a trophy. When we got home I cried. I had even been put up into the age division above mine for the butterfly. I often came in fourth but ended up with the first place ribbon because the others would all be disqualified.

I never did get even one trophy growing up. My little brother? He received many. It was a bitter pill to swallow.

By the time my children came along the popular thought was that all kids should get a trophy. We parent's paid for them. Even with my background, I was never really comfortable with that. Incidentally, the dozens of trophies my kids gathered hold little to no meaning for them. They are just tokens of a sport's season.

It was painful for me to strive for a trophy and never get one. I would not change it though. Life isn't fair. That is just a fact. Learning those lessons have prepared me for real life.

In relation to taxes... which way do you look at it? The redistribution of wealth in the name of fairness... is it another instance of life not being fair for those that have had more... because life was not fair to those that have had less? Is it even possible to balance the scales? In terms of character development... is it better to just give and foster an entitlement mentality or is it better for people to earn and foster a mentality of independence? What about those that fall through the cracks? Do we have a safety net for them... or do we try to come up with a system where all conform to the needs of a few?

Monday, March 2, 2009

Capitalism/Free Enterprise vs Socialism

I found a very interesting report online, The Australian Achievement: From Bondage to Freedom, authored by a Dr. Mark Cooray.

Dr. Cooray was at one time a socialist. You can read his philosophy here. It is very interesting reading!

The third chapter of the report is titled, The Rise of Western Civilisation, and I found it very relevant to the discussions going on here in the U.S. I'm going to pull out a few quotes to share. I'd really like to reprint the whole chapter here but I don't think I can do that without permission.

A detailed examination of the great breakthroughs and inventions provides interesting data. It is significant that during the past one hundred and fifty years almost all of them have taken place in liberal societies. The reference is to the pioneering inventions which involved exponential advancement in science and technology. There have been developments in the Soviet Union and in other communist countries but these countries merely adopted the scientific discoveries made in the free world.

The great achievement of private enterprise over about two centuries has been to reduce levels of inequality and to improve standards of living. In feudal times there were relatively few privileged and wealthy persons. The "masses" were exploited and lived in near poverty or absolute poverty. The great achievement of private enterprise was to bring into existence a large middle class — and to reduce very significantly the areas of inequality.

Most of the benefits of western technology and capitalism have endured primarily to the benefit of the less privileged sections of the community. Poverty and injustice, which critics make much of, exist and will exist in any human society. Jesus Christ said, "the poor you will always have with you". However, the perspective which radical and not so radical reformers overlook is the extent of the change that took place under freedom.

Critics refer to the "crisis of capitalism" today. But if by capitalism the reference is to a system of free enterprise, such a system does not exist anywhere in the western world. Private enterprise has been so gradually strangled by government regulation and taxation that from about the 1960's onwards it has been incapable of reducing levels of poverty and inequality. Over a period of a few centuries limited government and private enterprise had been responsible for the gradual reduction of poverty and inequality.

It would really be worth your time to read what is contained in the links above!

What Incentive?

I read an interesting article at Forbes.com. It is titled, So What's in the Simulus for You? Nothing! In it they talk about phaseouts (curtailing tax breaks as income rises) and give the following example:

Take an example of a single mother with an adjusted gross income of $75,000. She claims the standard deduction and has one high schooler and two kids in college. Under the stimulus package, she'll have her 2009 federal income tax bill chopped to $1,465 from $7,865 thanks to two $2,500 college credits, a $400 worker's stimulus credit and a $1,000 child credit. But if she takes a second job to help pay college bills and her AGI rises to $90,000, she gets no college credits and only $100 of the worker's credit and $250 of the child credit, for a total tax bill of $11,265. That makes the tax rate on the $15,000 of extra earnings 65%--not counting the 7.65% employee share of Social Security and Medicare or any state and local income taxes.

If this hardworking parent knew what was about to hit her, she might be able to reduce her 2009 AGI, say, by increasing her pretax contribution to her 401(k). But with three kids and two jobs, she's likely too busy to figure this out. "With all these phaseouts, planning is pretty hard," says Mark Luscombe, principal federal tax analyst at Wolters Kluwer (other-otc: WTKWY.PK - news - people )'s CCH business.

This really bothered me. I was listening to the radio the other day. I don't recall which program... and a gal called in that told the story of how the stimulus check she received under Bush pushed them up into the next tax bracket and in doing their taxes learned that it actually cost them money to accept it. Talk about falling through the cracks! I wonder how many people were right on that line and didn't realize it was going to cause them some problems? The people that have made more money have always paid more taxes... now they must pay even more.

I just don't get it. Of course, my husband is an accountant and he works for a small family owned company. A family that has worked to build their company for 25 years and who is going to be one of the many small company owners that are going to pay. The American dream is changing. Hopefully, there are enough people with character that will continue to do what they do and to live out their principles. Sadly, I think a lot of people will look at things and not see the point in working harder and independence will be lost.