PLAYING THE REAL ESTATE BUBBLE (IF THERE IS ONE)

Doug Simpkinson: ‘My wife and I played the real estate bubble by selling our house in the Silicon Valley and buying one slightly farther away (but bigger, in 3 acres of forest) for $100,000 less. This way we still own our (nicer) house, but we’ve extracted six figures from the bubble. Sort of like selling half of your TiVo stock after it shoots up, but imagine the remaining half of your TiVo stock has a mountain view. Or some other horribly strained metaphor.’

REASONS NOT TO FEEL STUPID KEEPING SOME OF YOUR MONEY SAFE

Click here. Very entertaining and frightening at the same time.

Note that our accumulated National Debt since 1776 will have reached $10 trillion or so by the time President Bush leaves office – up from under one trillion when Ronald Reagan took office. Of the $10 trillion, $8 trillion or so will have been racked up under just three presidents: Ronald Reagan, George Bush, and George Bush. (Of course, with inflation, it’s natural that 21st Century deficits would dwarf 19th Century deficits. What really matters is the size of the Debt in proportion to the size of the economy – and which way that ratio is headed. The debt was about 30% of GDP when Reagan took office, will be about 75% when Bush leaves – and is headed in the wrong direction.)

Meanwhile, the ratios of consumer debt are higher also. Our homes ‘appreciate’ (even though they grow no bigger) and we borrow and spend that newfound ‘wealth.’

It may all work out fine. It generally does. But not always.

[So? So? So, as expensive as they are, I’m not selling my TIPS or my oil stocks or my PCL, all of which might be good hedges against inflation.]

And now, just in case you’ve not already read them . . .

TWO VOICES ON THE TRAGIC SCHIAVO MATTER

The first was Congressman John Conyers on the floor of the House Sunday:

By passing this bill, in this form, we will be intruding in the most sensitive possible family decision at the most ill-opportune time. It will be hard for this member [of Congress] to envision a case or circumstance that Congress will not be willing to involve itself in under this precedent.

By passing legislation which takes sides in an ongoing legal dispute, we will be casting aside the principle of separation of powers. We will be abandoning our role as a serious legislative branch, and take on the role not only of Judge, but of Doctor, Priest, Parent and Spouse.

By passing legislation which wrests jurisdiction away from a state judge and sends it to a single preselected federal court, we will abandon any pretense of federalism. The concept of a Jeffersonian Democracy as envisioned by the founders, and the states as “laboratories of democracy” as articulated by Justice Brandeis will lie in tatters.

By passing this legislation, in the complete absence of hearings or a committee markup, and with no opportunity for amendments, in complete violation of what we used to call “regular order,” we will send a signal that the usual rules of conduct and procedure no longer apply when they are inconvenient to the Majority Party.

By passing this legislation, and taking this sensitive decision away from a spouse and giving it to a federal court, we will make it abundantly clear that all the talk last year about marriage being a “sacred trust between a man and a woman” was just that – talk.

My friends on the other side of the aisle will declare that this legislation is about principle, and morals and values.

But if this legislation was only about principle, why would the Majority party be distributing talking points in the other body declaring that “this is a great political issue” and that by passing this bill, “the pro-life base will be excited.”?

If the president really cared about the issue of the removal of feeding tubes, why would he have signed a bill in Texas that allows hospitals to save money by removing feeding tubes over a family’s objection?

If we really cared about saving lives, why would the Congress sit idly by while 40 million Americans have no health insurance, or while the president tries to cut billions of dollars from Medicaid – a virtual lifeline for millions of our citizens?

When all is said and done, this bill is about taking sides in a legal dispute. Last year, the Majority passed two bills stripping the federal courts of their power to review cases involving the Defense of Marriage Act and the Pledge of Allegiance because they feared they would read the Constitution too broadly. Last month, the Majority passed a class action bill that took jurisdiction away from state courts because they feared they would treat corporate wrongdoers too harshly. Today we are sending a case from the state courts to the federal courts even though it is the most extensively litigated “right to die” case in our nation’s history.

There is only one principle at stake here – manipulating the court system to achieve pre-determined substantive outcomes. By passing this law, it should be obvious to all that we are no longer a nation of laws, but have been reduced to a nation of men. By passing this law, we will be telling our friends abroad that even though we expect them to live by the rule of law, Congress can ignore it when it doesn’t suit our needs. By passing this law we diminish our nation as a democracy and ourselves as legislators.

The second is my pal and classmate Jesse Kornbluth, in his blog . . .

The Passion of Terri Schiavo
March 21, 2005 | 6:00 p.m.

The first thing you do when you are waging war against law and reason is to ratchet up the language. . . . [C]onsider the words of Randall Terry, former leader of Operation Rescue – and now the spokesman for Terri Schiavo’s parents:

Yes, hate is good … if a Christian voted for Clinton, he sinned against God. It’s that simple. Our goal is a Christian nation. We have a biblical duty, we are called by God to conquer this country…

There it is, right out in the open. The kind of country they want is everything our Founding Fathers labored to avoid.

A Few Facts You May Not Know
March 21, 2005 | 6:00 p.m.

1) The bill passed by Congress and signed by the President applies ONLY to Terri Schiavo.

2) The President’s decision to cut short his vacation and rush back to Washington made no medical difference to Terri Schiavo:

White House officials acknowledged that the final bill could have been flown to Mr. Bush in Texas, a round trip of six or seven hours that probably would have made no difference in whether Ms. Schiavo lives. Doctors say she can survive for up to two weeks without the liquid meals that have sustained her for 15 years.

Where George Bush Really Stands
March 21, 2005 | 6:00 p.m.

Just last week, the Houston Chronicle reports, Texas pulled the plug on an indigent African-American baby who seemed considerably more “alive” than Terri Schiavo. Who signed that bill? Then-Governor George Bush. Read on:

The 17-pound, nearly 6-month-old boy wiggled with eyes open, his mother said, and smacked his lips. Then at 2 p.m. Tuesday, a medical staffer at Texas Children’s Hospital gently removed the breathing tube that had kept Sun Hudson alive since his birth Sept. 25. Cradled by his mother, he took a few breaths, and died.

How does this Texas law work? Hospitals can stop life-sustaining care – no matter what the patient’s family wants. It just takes a doctor’s recommendation and approval by a hospital’s ethics committee. The family then has 10 days to find a facility that will take the patient. For a poor patient with little or no insurance, this is, in essence, a death sentence.

 

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