Saturday, March 19, 2011

First Baptist Church Of Dallas, Robert Jeffress, And The Earthquake In Japan

This Sunday morning, the Reverend Doctor Robert Jeffress is going to address the congregation of First Baptist Church Of Dallas on the subject of "Earthquake Theology". 

The sermon will be centered around these blood-curdling scripturea from the book of Nahum, chapter one:

2 The LORD is a jealous and avenging God;
the LORD takes vengeance and is filled with wrath.
The LORD takes vengeance on his foes
and vents his wrath against his enemies.
3 The LORD is slow to anger but great in power;
the LORD will not leave the guilty unpunished.
His way is in the whirlwind and the storm,
and clouds are the dust of his feet.
4 He rebukes the sea and dries it up;
he makes all the rivers run dry.
Bashan and Carmel wither
and the blossoms of Lebanon fade.
5 The mountains quake before him
and the hills melt away.
The earth trembles at his presence,
the world and all who live in it.
6 Who can withstand his indignation?
Who can endure his fierce anger?
His wrath is poured out like fire;
the rocks are shattered before him.
7 The LORD is good,
a refuge in times of trouble.
He cares for those who trust in him,
8 but with an overwhelming flood
he will make an end of Nineveh;
he will pursue his foes into the realm of darkness.
9 Whatever they plot against the LORD
he will bring to an end;

And all this time I thought earthquakes were caused by plate tectonics. 

If you go here, you can see Dr. Jeffress's schedule of media-whoring.  Hit the KRLD link, and you'll hear Jeffress claim that the Japan earthquake and tsunami were either caused by God, like he caused the flood that killed everyone except Noah's family, or he "allowed" the disasters in the same way he allowed the death of Job's family. 
Seriously.  God is working his purpose out.  In the biblical examples and murders that Jeffress mentions, God was either killing off sinners or just trying to make a point during an argument with Satan.  Pick one. 
If the KRLD interview is a preview, then that will probably be the nurturing message for First Baptist Dallas this Sunday.   

That ol' Yahweh, he's quite a guy, isn't he? 

Some people and some cultures just can't comprehend that things....just....sometimes....happen.  There is no deeper meaning to them.  Hurricane Katrina wasn't caused by gays in New Orleans.  The earthquake in Haiti wasn't "allowed" to happen because Haitians practice voodoo, no matter what Pat Robertson says.  If it doesn't rain for a while, you don't need to pray harder and longer.  If your crops die, you don't need to burn a few witches.  There is never a good reason to throw virgins into the volcano. 

People want to believe that they're responsible for everything that happens to them, that they can take control of their environment, and that prayer, positive thinking, crystals, or talismans can improve their odds.  This is why some people give money to Dr. Robert Jeffress.  And this is the main reason why I've always been skeptical of the idea that the Goddess Gaia will be appeased if we'll just stop driving SUV's.and give more money and power to climate evangelists who claim they can change the weather. 

According to Dr. Robert Jeffress, God either caused or allowed the earthquake in Japan.  It makes no difference if God made it happen or was just taking the morning off. God was in control of the situation.  If the collection of books and stories that we call "Bible" is 100% true, then Jeffress is 100% correct, and I have a grudging admiration for Jeffress for having the cajones to be somewhat consistent. 

If I have a point here, it's that our ancient and holy books, and our ancient and holy concepts of gods and curses might be due for an upgrade.  Otherwise, Robert Jeffress is right. 

God decided to kill 10,000 Japanese people. 

Hit the "Taking X out of Xmas" label below to read about the Christmas campaign that First Baptist Dallas gave us last year.  Hit the "Earthquakes" label to read about what kind of bumpersticker God would put on his Cadillac. 

Friday, March 18, 2011

Ron Paul, the cost of diapers, and Ben Bernanke's toilet paper

Kimberly-Clark is about to raise the prices of diapers and toilet paper. 

DALLAS, March 17, 2011-Kimberly-Clark Corporation (NYSE: KMB) today announced that its baby and child care and consumer tissue businesses are notifying customers of plans to raise prices in North America during the second and third quarters of 2011. The company said the increases are necessary to offset inflationary pressure from higher raw material and energy costs.

Net selling prices in the U.S. and Canada for Huggies baby wipes and diapers, Pull-Ups training pants and GoodNites youth pants will increase on average between 3 and 7 percent, with implementation timing ranging from June 19, 2011 to August 17, 2011. In addition, net selling prices in the U.S. for Cottonelle and Scott 1000 bathroom tissue will increase approximately 7 percent, effective June 19, 2011. The price changes vary by brand and pack size. Kimberly-Clark's net sales in North America for these consumer products exceeded $4 billion in 2010.

Here's who the price increase is hitting the hardest, from a piece by Monika Diaz of WFAA:

DALLAS — A Dallas non-profit is keeping a close eye on the disposable diaper price hike soon to hit stores, and it worries it will hurt their budget.
"We can't afford to be hit," said Jeanne Reyer, executive director of Captain Hope's Kids.
Every week, the charity distributes 9,000 diapers to agencies that help homeless babies and toddlers across North Texas.
"We are spending nearly $7,000 in diapers a month," Reyer said.
Irving-based Kimberly-Clark Corporation announced it is going to increase its prices in North America for products including diapers, tissue paper and toilet paper.
For example, the cost of Cottonelle toilet paper will go up 7 percent; the price for Huggies diapers, baby wipes and and training pants will jump between three and seven percent.
Kimberly-Clark claims the hike is needed because of the rising costs for raw materials to make its products.
Other companies, including Procter & Gamble and Colgate-Palmolive, are also looking at rolling out price increases.

And here's the reaon for all of this misery, as explained by Dr. Ron Paul.  Ron Paul's political opponents paint him as naive, out-of-the-mainstream, an extremist, and overly pessimistic. 
They call him Dr. No. 
But he's almost always right. 
This is an excerpt from his book The Revolution: A Manifesto:

When the Fed intervenes like this, increasing the money supply with money and credit it creates out of thin air, it causes all kinds of economic problems.  It decreases the value of the dollar, thereby making people poorer.  and in the long run even the apparent stimulus to the economy that comes from all the additional borrowing and spending turns out to be harmful as well, for this phony prosperity actually sows the seeds for hard times and recession down the road. 

First, consider the effects of inflation, by which we mean the Fed's increase in the supply of money, on the value of the dollar.  By increasing the supply of money, the Federal Reserve lowers the value of every dollar that exists. 

(That's why the government is trying to get you out of dollars, and into purchases of things they want you to buy.  Like purchasing all the houses that they're stuck with from their Community Reinvestment Act/Fannie/Freddie real estate debacle, or purchasing cars and trucks from those new auto companies they acquired.  They are honest to God trying to get you to spend money by announcing that your money will soon be worth less.  Good God in heaven.)

If the supply of Mickey Mantle baseball cards were suddenly to increase a millionfold, each individual card would become almost valueless.  The same principle applies to money: the more the Fed creates, the less value each individual monetary unit possesses.  When the money supply is increased, prices rise -  with each dollar now worth less than before, it can purchase fewer goods than it could in the past.  Or imagine an art auction in which bidders are each given an additional million dollars.  Would we not expect bids to go up?  The market works the same way, except in a free market there are numerous sellers instead of the one seller in an auction. 

All right, some may say, prices may indeed rise, but so do wages and salaries, and therefore inflation causes no real problems on net. 

This misconception overlooks one of the most insidious and immoral effects of inflation: its redistribution of wealth from the poor and middle class to the politically well connected.  The price increases that take place as a result of inflation do not occur all at once and to the same degree.  Those who receive the new money first receive it before prices have yet risen.  They enjoy a windfall.  Meanwhile, as they spend the new money, and the next wave of recipients spend it, and so on, prices begin to rise throughout the economy - well before the new money has trickled down to most people. 
The average person is now paying higher prices while still earning his old income, which has not yet been adjusted to account for the higher money supply.  By the time the new money has made its way throughout the economy, average people have all this time been paying higher prices, and only now can begin to break even.  The enrichment of the politically well connected - in other words, those who get the newly created money first: government contractors, big banks, and the like - comes at the direct expense of everyone else.

These are known as the distribution effects, or Cantillon effects, of inflation, after economist Richard Cantillon.  The average person is silently robbed through this invisible means and usually doesn't understand what exactly is happening to him. 
And almost no one in the political establishment has an incentive to tell him. 

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why the price of diapers and toilet paper is going up.  There isn't a long-term shortage of wood pulp, paper, or anything else.  There's an increase in the money supply.   Ben Bernanke is printing it. 
If you caught someone in your home stealing 3-7% of your savings, I hope that you would shoot him, or at least knock him in the head, "civility" be damned. 
Nobody voted for this, nobody is debating it.  The Fed is paying off Washington's debts by printing more money.  It doesn't hurt the rich that much, since they typically get to spend the funny money first, and it's a horrible burden on the poor.

If current trends continue, we won't have to worry about the high cost of Kimberly Clark's toilet paper.  Ben Bernanke's will be a lot less valuable. 

Pics came from here and here and here

Thursday, March 17, 2011

In which Charlie Delta uncovers a government scam....

My friend Charlie Delta over at the Gotta Get Drunk First blog was involved in a traffic accident in Kalifornia, the land of his birth.  Charlie Delta rear-ended a government employee.  At 3 miles per hour. 

There was no damage to either vehicle. 

Go here to read an account of the accident.  This doesn't require a profanity alert, it requires a profanity radiation suit, as CD doesn't suffer fools or the Department of Transportation (pardon the redundancy) lightly. 

But here's the catch....I spend more than a little bit of time examining false accident reports.  Somehow, a repair shop someplace has billed Kalifornia for $896.00 to repair non-existent damage to the front end of the car.  CD never mentions the magnitude of the obvious scam that some of Kalifornia's public servants are pulling.  There had to be at least three people in on this racket - the driver, a patrolman, and a supervisor.  The repair shop is getting money from the taxpayers, and then they're turning around and trying to collect it again from CD.  They figured his insurance company wouldn't care.  Amazing. 

I mean, hell, if those people want to elect Jerry Brown as governor, they're getting what they deserve. 

A brief rant about CSA 2010. Or 2011.

One of my drivers came to me a few days ago and asked to be considered for a warehouse or desk job.  When I asked him why, he said "I'm tired of government son of a bitches telling me how much damn money I can make."  (Somewhat edited to delete 90% of the profanity.) 

Here's what is at stake.  The Department of Transportation is rolling out a new program called CSA 2010.  It claims to be a safety program with a system that tracks each driver's and each company's safety record.  Every driver and every company gets a score based on roadside inspections, accidents, driver fitness, and lots and lots of paperwork. 

The purpose of the program?  To create jobs for goverment parasites. 

The purpose of the program? To make it easier for top-heavy union employers to compete against lean and mean upstart companies. 

The purpose of the program?  Safety.

Despite being named CSA 2010, the program hasn't been implemented yet.  I think they've pushed it back twice.  The government keeps having computer issues and nobody's score is accurate.  The trucking industry has been fairly patient with these delays, and I wonder if our Lords and Masters in the Department of Transportation will be as patient with companies that take as long to comply? 

Anyway, you can go here to read about the program. 

If that picture reminds you of the scary old Hillarycare flowchart, well, it should.  They both sprang forth from the same mindset.  My email system is plagued by entrepreneurial ex-DOT employees who have started companies and programs designed to help get me into compliance with this mess.  (For the low, low price of $999.00 !!!!) 

Now you would think that an organization that couldn't roll out something named "2010" until late "2011" would be modest about rolling out additional regulatory crap. 

Well, you're wrong.  Here's what else they're cooking up.  Imagine the paperwork, the mind-numbing regulations, documents, time stamps and civil service leeches necessary to guarantee compliance with this next set of hoops to jump through.  There are going to be extensive roadside Talmudic discussions between truckers and highway patrolmen that last for days:

The U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) today issued a regulatory proposal that would revise hours-of-service (HOS) requirements for commercial truck drivers.

This new HOS (hours of service) proposal would retain the "34-hour restart" provision allowing drivers to restart the clock on their weekly 60 or 70 hours by taking at least 34 consecutive hours off-duty. However, the restart period would have to include two consecutive off-duty periods from midnight to 6:00 a.m. Drivers would be allowed to use this restart only once during a seven-day period.

Additionally the proposal would require commercial truck drivers to complete all driving within a 14-hour workday, and to complete all on-duty work-related activities within 13 hours to allow for at least a one hour break. It also leaves open for comment whether drivers should be limited to 10 or 11 hours of daily driving time, although FMCSA currently favors a 10-hour limit.

Other key provisions include the option of extending a driver's daily shift to 16 hours twice a week to accommodate for issues such as loading and unloading at terminals or ports, and allowing drivers to count some time spent parked in their trucks toward off-duty hours.

God help us all. 

People don't understand what this kind of uncertainty does to a business.  Freight companies build their terminals a certain number of hours apart, based on the government regulations in place at the time.  They set up local driver routes to comply with Hours Of Service regulations. 

And then it all changes.  Because of.....????  Have the number of accidents been increasing?  An increased percentage of fatatlities?  Has there been a public outcry for more paperwork?  Nope. 

Your employees (the government ones) just need something to do. 

Be sure to check out the chart shown here.  Big Oil, of course, gets some exemptions.  Not because they're safer, or different, or better.  They just get them. 

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Michael Moore T-shirt

Go here to get one for yourself. Or for me. I'm back down to "large" instead of "Extra-large", just in case you're wondering.

Scariest Tsunami Video EVER, with unlikely comparisons to debt and inflation

I keep hearing and reading accounts of the Japan earthquake and tsunami that state that people continued to mill around, conduct business as usual, and assume that everything would be ok.  Just because everything had always been ok before. 

See previous post. 

Monday, March 14, 2011

Some Gloomy Predictions

Several years ago, I happened to be sitting next to a high school defensive line/football coach during a Cowboys game.  Well into the 2nd quarter, on a non-crucial play, with everything looking to me like it had looked throughout the game, the coach said "Number 89 is about to get an interception". 

Sure enough, #89 read the quarterback's mind, and placed himself in the exact spot to come down with the football.  I looked at the coach with a new level of respect, and asked him if he'd like to go to Las Vegas with me sometime. 

The guy laughed it off, and said it was just a hunch.  The QB was getting predictable, he was signalling his intentions with his play-calling and body language, #89 was showing signs of picking up the patterns, and on and on. 

On a similar subject, I've read about baseball journalists who will sometimes get a hunch, stand up in the pressbox, and say "Home run, left field bleachers !!" when the pitcher is still in his windup.  A lot of the time, the batter launches one into the left field bleachers.  The writers just have hunches. 

Ok, enough of the throat-clearing.....

Here's my hunch. 

The U.S. is 15 trillion in debt. 
The yearly deficit is around a trillion and a half. 
Our "leaders" are extending the spending spree by two week intervals, rather than face the cuts.
China is going to figure out really soon that Washington has no adults in the room, and that we aren't going to pay off our debts with anything resembling real dollars. 
Combine that with some turmoil in the Middle East and a supply chain disruption in Japan, both of which are going to echo throughout the manufacturing and shipping sectors of the economy.  That's gonna hurt. 

I think we're going to have another major slowdown, this time accompanied by mega-inflation.  With reduced tax revenue, the only legal way that Uncle Sam will be able to meet pension, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and subsidy obligations is to print money. 

Most of us know this is going to eventually happen, right?  So I'll call it.

Major economic meltdown by September 1, 2011.  You heard it here first. 

Y'all have a good Monday !!!!