Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Layman's Summary

The San Francisco Chronicle's Sean Olender (what's in a name?) published an article on Sunday April 9th at SFGate, the California newspaper's online home, that pretty much summarises my Obama irritations in easy-to-understand-terms. Here's an excerpt:
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The administration and the banks keep talking about a credit crisis, but there isn't one. Banks are lending. If you want a mortgage and can afford to pay it back, you can borrow at low rates today. You can finance a car at low rates for seven years. But most Americans don't want more debt because it is a debilitating path to poverty. The average American family already pays 14 percent of annual income in interest to banks.
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To fix this fake crisis, there are fake discussions about what the government must do. The endlessly recycled plan to buy "troubled" assets isn't to get banks lending again, because they haven't stopped lending. The plan seeks for taxpayers to buy worthless assets at high prices to absorb rich investors' losses. That's it. It keeps coming back as a different plan, but with that same goal. There is no goal beyond that one goal: keep rich people from taking losses.

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Obama and his economic gurus all chant, "Credit is the lifeblood of the economy," but they don't mean credit. They mean debt. Imagine the president saying, "Debt is the lifeblood of our economy. We desperately need to get more American families deeper in debt." That's what he means, and that's what these bailouts hope to do.

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It's time the President understood that we all understand, that he is screwing us even as he talks about climate change, stem cell research and a nuclear free future. All good stuff, but if we are economic serfs at home none of that means anything at all to us.

Don't Fence Me In

There is a Higgs Park inland of Higgs Beach though it is all part of the Monroe County parks system, and most people refer to the whole complex as Higgs Beach. The County has offered it for free to the city but the the city of Key West has politely declined citing the cost of upkeep. I used to bring Emma here for walks when she was still frisky enough to put one paw in front of the other unaided and we spent many happy hours pottering around and flopping in the shade, my yellow lab with her nose and I with a magazine for amusement. I don't come back much since she died; I have no reason to, but other residents do, they have lots of reasons.The park is open technically from 7am to sunset, and people come and go all the time, by car, looking for a quiet place to park:Some people bring their animals to the dog park:Others walk their dogs around the main body of the park:The dog park was built using private money (sixteen thousand smackers worth as I recall. Oh happy, wealthy days!) a few years ago and it caused a cloud of controversy. Change always does. I wasn't too fond of the idea of breaking up the park into component pieces but I've come to terms with all the fencing. The dog park itself isn't necessarily a place where huge amounts of exercise take place, other than tail and jaw wagging:The dog area is fenced off into two separate spaces, for big dogs and small and they have facilities too for drinking (dogs) and sitting (people):Outside the dog area is a sprawling stretch of grass dotted with some organized activities behind their own fences. Astro City is a kid's playground, a sand box where adults are not allowed unless accompanied by a child:Remember this is the town where there is nothing for children to do...and, they say, not much for adults either! You hear that all the time...They could be out practicing their tennis strokes at the nearby tennis courts, bocce at the bocce ("bocci" in Italian-American) courts across the street, or even if they are alone they can bounce a tennis ball off the practice court here at Higgs Park behind it's own safety fencing:Some people come to walk or run the paved roadway around the edge of the park:Students come to find a quiet spot to do some studying in the sun:Higgs Beach has made a bit of a name for itself as the place where "local subjects" come to hang out. With the whole country (planet) going through grim economic times it's not very nice to pick on homeless people but in Key West there is a certain population of vagrant types who better fit the description of hobos- traveling homeless people who hang out in public places and enjoy the amenities provided by the county and city - soup kitchens, free sleeping areas and so forth. Enough of these travelers have taken over the picnic tables at the beach that the county, in whose jurisdiction the park lies, has stationed a Sheriff's Deputy to keep order. There has been a pretty much permanent winter encampment at this table in the park since I can remember:But as I wandered the park one recent afternoon before work I saw lots of empty picnic tables available for anyone to use across the park:One step up the social ladder, if you can call it that, are the winter visitors who enjoy living out of their vehicles and they too spend daylight hours parked around Higgs Beach:Others park their cars while they..walk their dogs... ...some buggers park their motorcycles under the palm trees, imagine that!...while some mobile snowbirds get onto the whole camping out in winter ethic:Every time I mention coconut palms Scooter in the Sticks marvels which makes me rather self conscious about these non native trees. But their hairy fruit is available all over the place for those that want fresh coconut:The mature trees around my house are producing massive great clumps of nuts too, so pretty soon I'll be drinking more coconut milk than I can decently manage. Monroe County has left over coconut chippings apparently:I'm thinking about hitching up the trailer to the Nissan, not the Bonneville, and picking some up for myself. Higgs Park is also where the county keeps their maintenance fleet. In some places large wheeled vehicles like these are a common sight. But as there's no agriculture in the Keys tractors are mostly used for stuff like beach clean up, not ploughing fields. In front of the tractors you'll see the horse shoe courts for people to use, unless they get the idea there's nothing to do in Key West:There's a back entrance to Higgs Park from Casa Marina Court which is open 24 hours- not wide enough to get a car through after they lock the main gate on White Street at 7 pm, but big enough for a scooter or even a Bonneville with some care and no saddlebags:Making my way back to the parked Triumph I passed the bird sanctuary, which is a pond in summer when it rains, and a muddy depression in winter when it doesn't:And then in the middle of the park is one final fence surrounding a shed and an antenna which is some sort of beacon for the airport or something. It seems a bit old fashioned in the age of GPS but I have no clue about these things:I guess the Feds get a bit snippy of you mess with their beacons, as would I if you were to do the same to the Bonneville. It was untouched when I returned after my circuit around the park:Looking good I thought.