Saturday, October 31, 2009

Jay Leno Has Some Neat Cars

I seem to remember a guy I went to high school with had one of these.

Well, almost.

I want the crate motor. I'll find a car for it later

The Truth Hurts

I have linked to this blog before- usually once a week it seems- because he seems to have the time to track down the weird and wonderful on the world wide web; a talent I wish I had.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Et tu, Brutus?

Seems like the press is no longer a willing accomplice.


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Thunder Road

If you have never seen Thunder Road it is one of those movies that has some great scenes and over all is pretty entertaining. Robert Mitchum stars as a moonshine runner in the (for the 1959 movie) present day; his runs from Harlan County Kentucky to Memphis to deliver 250 gallons of White Lightining are the basis of the story.

Running from the law is routine; its when the 'shine runners also need to start running from a Memphis crook that things get dangerous.

Filmed in black and white- you can also see some of the early transitional changes in the chases scenes, as the stunt co-ordinators went from horses to cars. Or maybe I am just seeing that way because of way they car chases are staged reminded me awhole lot of '50's TV western posse scenes.

Next time your looking for a way to spend a Saturday evening,or a rainy afternoon, pick up a copy. The opening 5 minutes will get you hoooked.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Thank God for Bourbon

I'm not a big fan of poetry- with the possible exception of Casey At The Bat- but another piece of doggerel has stayed with me since High School English- The Deacon's Masterpiece, or The Wonderful One Horse Shay . (you may need to scroll down a bit to the start of the piece.)

I got to thinking about this today because my 50th birthday is only a couple of months away and I am starting to feel like the shay. Up to now I have been fairly heathly, but all of the sudden everything is starting hurt, stop working or generally remind me I am getting old; like I need another reminder.

Oh well, nothing a little bourbon won't cure!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Cousin Throckmorton Sends His Regards

Dear Cousin Red,

Onest again I need to see if you can help me figur’ out somethin’ I heared about from out in the world that don’t make no sense to us up here in the Holler.

Is it true that the Government is calling a Golf Cart an ‘Letric Car? And givin’ y’all $5,300 to help y’all buy one? On what planet does that make sense? First, the whole idea that the government decides that buyin’ a car that burns ‘lecticity instead of gas means you get money is one I just can’t get my head around.

If’n we all drove ‘lectric cars, where in the name of Jonah are we gonna get all this juice? Near as I can tell we get most of it now from burnin’ coal and oil. Seems to me that driving more cars that burn ‘lectric is really just like drivin’ more cars that burn coal.

Plus ev’ry day don’t we hear ‘bout how we are at the limit of what power we can produce? Where we gonna get the new power? Them Green folks won’t let us damn a river, or burn more coal or oil to get ‘lecticity, and the gov’ment won’t let us use ur-ain-ium like they do down in Oak Ridge ‘cause they say it ain’t safe. But, they can take up’ards of a hundred sailors ‘n throw ‘em in a submarine with one of them ur-ain-ium burnin’ things and have ‘em stay under water for a month or so, but we can’t build one to make cheap ‘lectricity. I guess they just ain’t figured out how to put a windmill farm or solar panels on a submarine yet.

But I’m getting’ a little off’n the path I was a’follurin’. What makes a golf cart a car? Yeah, they both have four wheels. But so does my Radio Flyer, an’ it ain’t getting’ 5 grand from the gov’ment. And it’ll do 20 miles per hour too; as long as it’s down hill. And I can sure as hell rig up some lights and seatbelt. Which, when y’all think about it, doing 20 mph in a little red wagon means y’all ought’n ta have a seatbelt. Or brakes. But I’m thinkin’ puttin’ a seatbelt in would be easier than brakes. A’course, with the $5000 I’m gonna get from my Uncle Sam, I just might be able ta do both. I might even be able ta figur’ a way ta get it to uphill, without draggin’ it.

A’course I guess there ain’t much difference between a Smart car and a golf cart, ‘ceptin’ I don’t think anybody would let you drive y’all’s Smart car ‘round the golf course. ‘Course I could be wrong. They only thing I ever drove ‘round a golf course was a lawn mower. Man them folks get fussy about how you cut their grass. And I’ll never understand why they put them nice lawns out in the middle of nowhere, with a sandbox handy for the young’uns, an’ then won’t let a body picnic on ‘em.

Best wishes from all of us in the Holler,

Throckmorton Q. Sheisseschnitter

Sunday Morning Guilt Trip

I found this on one of my guilty pleasures blog sites. You know the ones; where the content is not something we should be enjoying at our age or social position, but do anyway.

So enjoy; and don't feel guilty.

And don't try this at home.

Unless you invite me over.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Have You Ever Done What You Thought Was Smart?

This past week the wife and I celebrated 25 years of marriage. Every year I get the date wrong. You see, 25 years ago I thought I was being smart, and my being smart comes up every year to bite me in the butt.

We were married on October 21; Sweetest Day, and it was marked on the calendar. In case you are unaware of this fabricated day to spend money on gifts for your significant other, well, I've just explained it to you. But, it is marked on the calender. And that is what got me into trouble.

I figured getting married on Sweetest Day would mean I would never forget our anniversary- it would always be pre-marked on the calender. I failed to realize that Sweetest Day is a floating holiday; its always the third Saturday in October, not always the 21st.

I came home on October 20th full of first anniversary pride, and was promptly shot down with: But, our anniversary is TOMORROW.


But since then I have always remembered the date as the 20th, and not the 21st, and every year, even though I no longer follow the calender, I am always a day early with my Happy Anniversary wishes.

And every year it sucks. My wife recognizes this programming flaw in me and starts on the first of October reminding me that the date is the 21st.

And I still manage to blow it if she's not around.

Oh well; there's always next year!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Cars I Have Known II

Second in the series, and second car I owned. Again, this isn't my car, but very similar. Mine was dark copper- think brown- with a brown interior. Options? it had a 'Speed Minder', which was a needle you could set on the speedometer to what ever speed you did not want to exceed. When the speed indicating needle hit the 'Speed Minder' a buzzer would sound. I didn't think the thing would still work (Herman {I named this one Herman} was 18 years old when I had him), so I set the needle on 75. Late one night I hit 75 and the buzzer went off and about scared the crap outta me. To this day I can't tell you what scared me worse; the sound of the buzzer or the fact that I realized I was actually doing 75 in this beast.

Herman was the proverbial $100 car. It had a transmission problem when I bought it (I fixed it in an hour and with $10 in parts- ahhh; the good old days) and had very few problems afterward. He was set up just like Harvey- 389 cubic inch engine and an automatic transmission, and Herman was massive- I once loaded 8 other guys in one morning for rides to work, as nobody else's cars would start- and heavy, which was a very good thing when driving in snow. And we drove in alot of snow. Did I mention Herman was my car in North Dakota?

Again, the stories I could tell, if the statute of limitations had run out! The base was 25 miles from town (too far in some instances; too close in others) and Herman was the ride on Friday and Saturday nights. Seven of us wouldn't be uncommon, and some of those 2am rides back were... interesting? I have said many times that the only reason we made it back to base sometimes was because Herman knew the way.

Herman was a good companion for a year or so, until he got impounded on base for some unremembered reason, and the only way to rescue him without paying the impound and storage fees was to sell him to somebody else. A friend and I hatched a plan that he would buy and register Herman for 6 months, then I would buy him back. Jim got Herman, registered him on base and I got orders to England and a couple other cars. Last I heard Herman was still on the road.

But, last news I had was 30 years ago.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Interesting News

I found this through Instapundit.

I have read other articles on The Anchoress in the past; she is a very thoughtful and clear writer.

I just have to question the validity of this idea. Basically they are creating what amounts to Anglican diocese that will report to the Pope instead of the Queen.

What next? Southern Baptists with their own dioceses reporting to Rome?

Admittedly the Anglican Church is very similar to the Roman one- especially since Vatican II (which some put forth as the SOLE reason for Vatican II), but still the two churches have some differences of opinion and apparently Rome is now willing to allow them full communion with the Roman Church while they maintain those differences.

I'll have to cognate on this a bit more.

Monday, October 19, 2009

A Monday Morning D'oh!

The oldest boy and his wife came by the house yesterday for dinner and of course brought the new grandson.

This morning I was asked how the pictures turned out.

I had forgotten to get a single picture of his visit.

He's two months old now, and getting big.

And I didn't get a single picture.


Sunday, October 18, 2009

More of my Thinking on Production and Taxation

Back in August I did a post on the causes of war called We Need A Way Out. I have been doing some more thinking on the subject, and thought I'd share my thoughts, whether you want them or not.

Ever since the era when we lived in caves and swung stone tools man has had to meet certain basic needs (Food; Clothing; Shelter- we started to worry about entertainment when we finally had enough of the other three) not enough of these needs, you were poor; an overabundance meant you were rich. You went from poor to rich by being good at something- hunting; gathering; hut building, tool making (career choices were rather limited in those early days; I’ll bet nobody earned a living as a ‘consultant’); take your pick.

At some point we began to specialize, in as much that I would sew the skins for your tent in exchange for fresh meat. I didn’t have to hunt; you didn’t have to make your own shelter. When I became better at making tent skins than what most people could produce themselves, I would have more work than I could do. Then I could raise my prices, as I became better and faster at my job, so I was making money two ways; I was receiving more for my labor, and I was spending less time doing it. I would have an over abundance of fresh meat and berries, and whatever else my clients could forage. Then, instead of only being able to trade my tent skins for what I needed, now I could trade my excess. I didn’t need to worry if the tool maker needed a tent so I could get a new flint scraper; I could trade my berries.

When each member of my tribe was able to specialize we were able to become richer than the tribes around us, and we could afford to have our toolmaker experiment with new methods and materials for tools, making us even more productive. When we had food in abundance, our population grew, and had the technology to force the neighboring tribes off of land we wanted for our offspring. Our ability to produce did not make us greedy; it was Darwin in action.

This scheme has survived 50,000 years. If your tribe had it, and my tribe needed it, we tried to take it. If we did, we became the dominant culture. If we couldn’t; you became the dominant culture. The Romans, The Persians, The Egyptians, The Mayans, The Inca; history is littered with the remnants of various tribes that thrived until they ran into a more dominant culture. Well, except for the Romans; their culture didn’t run into a more dominant tribe; their society just disintegrated from within.

Our technology to wage war became more and more deadly. We weren’t just one-on-one with a stone axe anymore; we had battles where 30,000 were lost at one time. We were able to use technology to destroy 50,000 with one bomb. War over production had to stop.

I’m not going to say the United Nations has done a good job, but it does allow the sham of saber rattling without actual bloodshed. The Cuban Missile Crisis is a good example. The USA, instead of starting a shooting war, was able to take an international stage and declare we were ready to start shooting. The Russians saw the end game and backed down. It was the same old story; they needed the production resources Cuba provided, and were afraid we would use our weapons to deny them those resources. The entire Cold War was fought this way, as the West and the East fought to become the dominant culture.

There are only two types of people in a society; producers and consumers. A producer adds to the tribes riches; a consumer deducts from those riches. That is a little over-simplified, but for my purposes today that will work. Producers want to produce. They want to create wealth, and their production of wealth usually benefits us all. As a Stone Age tent maker I would eventually need to have help, spreading my wealth. Today the busy rich man still hires help to accomplish the work he has been hired to do. Recently we have been expanding the consumer class, as an effort to limit production. As more and more people are moved from producer to consumer we have been able to produce less, limiting both our need for more resources and markets, and limiting our ability to expand, because we lack the necessary resources.

The way to stop fighting over production, resources and markets is to limit the ability to produce. When production is lowered we have less use of resources and less need for markets. The American government has been limiting production for 40 years by taxation, the welfare state and environmental controls. The American public has adapted and become more productive as a result; the opposite of what was intended.

So now what? First it was the resources they are starting to limit, by controlling things like oil production. Oil is not a finite commodity; “Experts” have been predicting the end of the oil supply since the 1920’s. (See here for more detail.) It is the monopoly on oil production that has increased the price, not its scarcity.

Now the governments are starting to tax the producers more heavily becaus ethey produce, hoping to limit their production. The Kyoto Protocols and the Cap and Trade legislation is how this is to be accomplished. It is practically impossible to produce anything without waste, and in an age when 90% of what we do produces carbon waste, taxing carbon by-product production is seen as an easy way to limit production.

But the people are beginning to see through the sham. Producing is what makes us able to earn our living, and limiting that ability makes us poorer, both as individuals and as a culture/society. We don’t want to be poor- struggling for our crumbs; we want to be rich- having enough to store some of our riches; just like our Stone Age ancestors.

Government was meant to be an aid to production, not a restriction. Government does not produce, it consumes. Except for very, very limited examples, government workers in a none Collective Societal setup do not produce a product that could be considered viable for a private company (the Parks systems are one of the few) and most of those few are the result of government regulation (think Bureau of Motor Vehicles). How long will we accept such poor help from what should be an aid to our goals? Not much longer, if the Tea Parties are any indication.

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Boy and the Balloon

If you have heard of this story, and if you've had an electronic communication device turned on in the last 12 hours, you have been inundated with it, you know the facts.

Well, at least the facts the media determined that you SHOULD know.

First and foremost, these parents are idiots, and their children should be taken away permanently. First the idea of the ‘attractive nuisance’ of a balloon in the backyard that a 6 year old could access (I’ll ignore that the media kept calling it a ‘Hot Air’ balloon when it was really a helium balloon) was STUPID. If they had left their pool unfenced and the boy had fallen into it, would they have had half the sympathy they garnered nationally while this fiasco was going on?

Second; these parents are idiots, and their children should be taken away permanently. I have seen other blogs where the lift and weight of this balloon were calculated, things the father (who built this contraption) would have known. He would have known from the minute he filled it with gas that there wasn’t enough lift for a case of beer in the basket of his balloon, much less enough lift for his 6-year old. So why the crocodile tears on national TV?

Third: these parents etc… Larry King show last night. Need I say more?

Fourth, and probably most important, while the nation was focused on a runaway weather balloon in Colorado, what monstrosity of legislation did they pass in Washington? We’ll probably find out in November of 2010, when Obama cancels the midterm elections.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Have You Ever Run Into a Name That Caught Your Attention?

Jay Leno's latest video tours some antique motorcycles at Pebble Beach, and he talks to a motorcycle expert named Summer Hooker.

Nope; not a striper, but some 60 year-old dude with a full beard.

I was kinda disapointed.

More School Insanity

Here is another reason the country is going to Hell n a handbasket.

I had a knife like this when I was a Cub Scout a couple of decades ago, and took it to school many times, just like this young lad.

I never got expelled though.

The public education system in the country has some serious issues, mainly because of the idiots in charge of it.

How much of this can we put up with?

Monday, October 12, 2009

Well, My Monday is Ruined

I almost hate to link to this, but what a cluster of idiots.

Read the Post, then read the comments.

And remember, each of these dipsticks has the right to vote, and probably did so. For Obama.


Saturday, October 10, 2009

MLK May have had a Dream, But I Have a Plan

I just had a thought.

We have until next February to get nominated for a Nobel Prize.

Okay everybody; let's pair off into teams of two and then nominate your partner for the Nobel Prize.

Oh and make sure one of you nominates me for the excellent potential I have shown with this blog.

Cars I Have Known 1

A while back I promised to blog about some of the cars I have had.

Today would be a good day to start. It’s either that or Obama’s Nobel, and I would rather live blog about a prostate exam than the best example of the Peter Principle I have ever seen.

But where to start? I guess at the beginning.

In the beginning there was darkness… Sorry, maybe that was a little too far back.

In 1977 I got my driver’s license and my first car; a 1960 Pontiac Catalina with 70,000 original miles and a 389 2 barrel automatic. I don’t have any pictures of mine scanned, but this one is close to mine. Well, except for the rust. And the whitewalls. It was the best set of wheels possible for me. It was solid iron; if it didn’t weigh 3 tons it didn’t weigh an ounce. It still had about 280 horsepower, and would definitely get out of its own way. A one wheel wonder (meaning it didn’t have a posi-trac rear end, and when you stomped the gas pedal only one rear wheel would lay a strip of rubber), I could drop the tranny into ‘Drive 2’, slam the gas pedal to the floor and smoke that one rear tire for a hundred yards.

Not very fuel efficient- I got maybe 10 mpg- but who cared when gas was 30 cents a gallon? It also would easily carry 6 or 7 friends comfortably, which I did on many occasions. The stories I could tell, but I’d have to check on the statute of limitations first on several of them. It was never fast off the line, but once you got that 3 tons rolling, it would cruise forever. Hitting 85 or 90 wasn’t a problem. Stopping from those speeds with 4 wheel drum brakes and no power assist WAS a problem, but not one you worried about at 17.

I will tell you that that car me a feeling I will never have again. For the first time I was able to go where I wanted, when I wanted, with the only limit being how long the gas money would hold out. No one would be able to limit me anymore.

Then the gas money ran out, I got job and found out how limited life really was.

I drove that old Pontiac (which for some reason I nicknamed Herman) the summer between my Junior and Senior years, and most of my Senior year, until the starter gave out. I left for the Air Force right after graduation and never drove it again. But when I got to my first duty station I was looking for a car, and found a 1960 Pontiac.

But that’s for the next time.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Cousin Throckmorton Checks In Again

Dear Cousin Red,

I woke up this mornin’ to the news that they gave this here Obama feller what’s gone and got himself elected President somehow the Nobel Peace Prize. (Myself I got no idea how he was elected. I here some folks say it was a’cause a’ Acorns. I can’t say myself if’n it was just the acorns that got him elected. I tend to believe it was a whole bunch a’ nuts. But I’m getting’ a little off’n my subject).

Turns out this is the third time an American President has won the award while in office. The first was ol’ Teddy Roosevelt. They gave him the prize ‘cause he stopped the Russians and the Japanese from shootin’ at each other. Then they gave it to Woody Wilson, back when he invented the League of Nations, to try an’ keep the whole world from shootin’ at each other, after that great big war they had over in Europe that we had to send some boys over to put an end to.

Now they gone and gave this here award to Obama for…. Just what did they give him this thing for anyway? Do you know Cuz? Did he stop a war someplace that nobody told me about? As fer as I know they’re still killin’ each other- and us- all over that Middle East place. And Africa too. All over that whole continent folks is killin’ each other, even though we elected Obama, nuthin’ has changed.

Hell, he ain’t even ended the wars he’s the boss over. We’re still shootin’ it out in Iraq and Afghanistan. I tell y’all maybe I gotta get out’n the Holler once in a while. Maybe I won’t miss so much news.

The wife has just tol’ me that they quit allowing folks to be nominated for this here Peace Prize back in February. Now don’t that beat all. What ever it was he did to earn this thing he did in the last two weeks a’ January. I know I’m startin’ to suffer from The Old Timer's disease, but still y’all would think I would remember the earth shatterin’ event that happened to convince these folks to fork over a medal and almost a million and a half bucks to this Obama feller. But I just can’t.

Maybe they’re givin’ him this award for what he’s plannin’ to do, instead a’ what he’s done. If’n that’s the case, maybe I could win this Peace Prize too. I’m plannin’ on keepin’ peace in the Holler this weekend. My wife’s Momma is comin’ to spend a few days, and to keep the peace I’m goin’ fishin'.

Y’all there with the Nobel Prize committee, just send the check to the Holler, my brother the mailman will know where to find me.

Best wishes from all of us in the Holler,

Throckmorton Q. Sheisseschnitter

WTF!?!?!?!? Seriously; WTF?!?!?!?!

Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize!?!?!?

Hell, if all it takes to win s nine months of doin' nuthin' then I have been eligible for years.

Honestly, if this isn't the last nail in the coffin of legitimacy for this idiocy i don't what will be.

First Al Gore for his crap a couple of years ago, and now this.

George Bush wipes out two evil regimes, frees 45 million people and gives women in two countries the first rights they have ever had and gets....


Obama smiles, nods and eloquates his way into a job he is severely under qualified for and....

Wins the Nobel Peace Prize.

Seriously; WTF?!?!?!?

Tonight I will definately need some bourbon.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Have You Ever Seen What Are Considered Clunkers?

I think it is a foregone conclusion by everybody but the Obamabots that Cash For Clunkers was a HUGE waste of resources. Our resources. And our tax dollars.

I had to go to the salvage yard early this week and saw several cars that I would have driven, had the government given me the oppourtunity.

I also have to admit that I like machinery. And Cash for Clunkers is like putting a pet down. Sometimes it needs to be done. Your friend is old and in pain; he is suffering. Its time.

But some of the cars I saw were relatively young pups; it was saddening to think that their owners were so ready to have them put down, just so they could get a new one.

What a waste.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Screen Door in A Submarine Time

I was surfing the 'net and found this and started to read the article.

Within 3 paragraphs I realized either the author is out of touch with reality, or I am. The 'money' quote:

Except for a long straightaway on the way back to the Civic Auditorium, we never felt out of sync with the speed of traffic. .... when we sped up to the Wheego's top speed of 25 mph.

I don't know about the rest of the country, but with a top speed of 25 mph around here you would be limited to about a 10 by 10 block are of downtown. And that is provided the thing will climb a hill.

Basically, this thing is an $18,000 golf cart that is street legal. And this is the CADILLAC of electric vehicles?!?!?! Either this guy has no idea what the Cadillac of a genre is; the idea of a Cadillac of something has seriously gone down hill, or this IS the Cadillac of EVs and they are a sorrier lot of garbage than I ever imagined.

Just so I don't leave in doubt who is the one of us out of touch, I want to highlight this line:

It's easy to imagine that most people will be able to make an NEV like the Wheego work just fine in day-to-day use...

NONE of the people I know could make this work without being a traffic hazard. I can't think of a single person I know who could make their drive to work without leaving a 25 mph zone. Well, except for the folks who commute in their pajamas.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Celebrate and Be Joyful

I heard about this on the radio this morning and thought it was neat.

I have always believed that a funeral should be a celebration of the life of the deceased, and not a dirge. Face it, as Christians we should believe that I am now in a better place, and you should be happy for me.

Unless you believe I was a serious SOB, and am now burning in the fires of Hell.

Anyway, I think the idea of celebrating this guy's life with one more trip through the traps was a great way for his family to celebrate his life. I just need to come up with something similar for my funeral. It's not like I need to come up with something tomorrow; I plan on being around another 50 years or so.

At this point I am looking toward something to do with beer. Maybe have the HofBrau Haus cater the funeral, complete with a keg of Dunkel?

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Okay, This Morning I Have a Little Time On My Hands

One of the blogs I read regularly is The Borderline Sociopathic Blog For Boys. there is this great YouTube video there this morning that is rather manic, but impressive.

The whole site is devoted to the things that get boys into trouble, but are usually (I did say Usually) acceptable once we have grown up a little. Things like go-karts that will go 150 mph, and motorized beer crates. Yep; a motorized beer crate. And a jet powered merry-go-round.

About Last Night...

We were hunting for something to watch and found our old copy of Toy Story 2 last night. It is one of my favorite movies, as it does what I have many times said is all I need from a movie; a Good Story, Convincingly Told. If you have never seen the Toy Story series, do your self a favor; rent a couple of kids (you would be suprised at how cheaply some parents wll let them go for a couple of hours. Take the kid to a movie and feed it dinner; Mom and Dad consider that a good trade for a couple of hours of peace and quiet for some reason) and go see them both on the big screen in the next two weeks. Then you will be ready for Toy Story 3 when it comes out next June.

Shoot, just the outtakes during the credits at the end of Toy Story 2 are worth seeing the movie for. First the idea there are goofs in the acting of an animated movie is a gag, then some of the scenes are simply hilarious, like when Stinky Pete gets caught with 2 Barbie Dolls in his box.

I actually liked '2' better than '1'. One was good, but a little creepy. '2' is just FUN! The trailer doesn't say much about the new movie, but does put each character into character, so I am looking forward to seeing it. The trouble is I no longer have a kid who is young enough to qualify as a reason to go see a kid's cartoon. I guess I'll need to rent one. Maybe I can borrow the granddaughter...

Its Amazing What You Can Find On the Internets

5:00 this morning I was listening to the BBC (what else can I do? All the AM stations turn into "Will Preach for Cash", and I have yet to find an FM station that will play what I want to hear consistently. I mean, I'll be channel surfing and catch a little Jim Croce and stop. Two songs later its {oh... what the Hell is the name of that gay English guy who wears weird glasses and bangs on a piano that can't stand? [Its the guy's 'music' I can't stand, not his piano, just in case there was some confusion] John something... But, I digress}, so I'm back to surfing again, and I spend more time listening to static and garbage I don't like, so on Sunday mornings I listen to the BBC) and heard about this video.

They have a website where they detail the whole launch and recovery. Amazing what you can do with $150.00!

And even though these guys go to MIT, I believe they are Rednecks at heart!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

What The Hell Is the Gold Standard?

I got into a discussion a week or so back about the gold standard, and I think at that time I did a very poor job of explaining my position and why the gold standard is important. Hopefully I can do better today.

First the basics. The Gold Standard is when a country’s monetary supply is tied to the value of an asset, typically gold. I guess a little monetary history is in order as well.

Did you know that the only legitimate United States money is gold or silver coins? Paper currency has come about from the early days of the country, when actual Federal money was basically non-existent. In order to conduct commerce wealthy men would issue letters of credit, which could be redeemed for a specific amount of a commodity. In the South, it was usually tobacco. These letters were traded both locally and country wide (in the 1700’s) just as Federal Reserve notes are now. The face value of the letter was sometimes accepted, but if the maker was relatively unknown, or was widely known as bankrupt, the letter could be traded at a discount.

These letters gave way to banks issuing similar letters, but printed in specific denominations and in bulk. Each of these letters of credit was as valuable as the deposits of gold that were held by the individual bank. If the bank printed more certificates than actual deposits, they could be in trouble. A lot of early bankers were wealthy men, not because of the bank, but because you needed inordinate wealth to start one.

There were several attempts at a National Bank early on, the second National Bank was disbanded by Jackson in 1828 I believe, but it wasn’t until the early part of the last century that the Federal Reserve was created. Basically, the United States of America has deposited all of its money in one specific bank, which it controls. This bank issues, under the auspices of its largest depositor, all of our paper currency.

As long as we limit the amount of currency in circulation to what the government can back up with real money, we have a finite amount of currency available. This means currency will maintain its value. We also need to draw a distinction between money and currency. Money is gold or silver; hard assets that have an intrinsic value. Currency is the non-asset we trade instead of money.

For years the value of our currency was fixed to a certain amount of gold, and a silver coin was made from the exact amount of silver the denomination of the coin was worth. Silver started to become more expensive in the 1960’s, and in 1965 the US started to ‘sandwich’ a piece of copper between two sheets of silver to enable the coins to remain the same size (because of vending machines), yet not be worth more than its face value. The ratio of copper to silver has constantly increased until today we have just a skin of silver on a copper coin. Coins, originally a face value commodity, are now more currency than actual money.

The problem with the Gold Standard (for governments) is that it limits the currency available for circulation. If I borrow 30 dollars for 30 years plus interest, I am paying back 30 dollars, plus interest, in real money. If I borrow 30 dollars for 30 years without a fixed standard, as the money supply increases each dollar is worth less, and I am paying back less than 30 dollars, including interest, in real money. A gold standard favors a creditor; floating currency favors a debtor. A floating currency also favors the government; because they can control the supply of money easily.

You have hard news reports where they reference the Federal Reserve Board meeting to increase the money supply? What they are actually doing is devaluing the dollar. They don’t actually print more dollars (although sometimes they do), what they have done is increased the amount of money on that is available for loans.

Think about all of the money that changes hands daily with a single piece of currency having changed hands. Checks and bank wires are just two ways that billions of dollars move around the country daily; dollars that are available because of the size of the money supply, if not actual currency.

Remember back in February when Congress voted to spend $787,000,000,000.00? If we were on a gold standard this expenditure would have been impossible, as the money would not have existed, and could not have been created out of thin air.

Well, out of thin air is not exactly correct. The government voted to spend the money, so te Federal Reserve had to create it. Which they did by borrowing the money, which we have to repay with interest. It’s not that governments couldn’t borrow while on a gold standard; it’s just that he standard made the repayment expensive. As long as we were a creditor nation having a standard was a good thing.

But now we are a debtor nation; we want to make the money cheaper so we can repay less than we actually borrowed, over time. Before we can go back to being on the gold standard, we need to repay our massive debt. I don’t see that happening in my grandchildren’s lifetimes.