Daily Archives: January 3, 2011

Gift cards, pensions, it’s all the same: they’re coming after us

New Jersey wants to seize unused gift cards.

Europe confiscating private pensions.

It’s the same principle:  everything we own truly belongs to the state.

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Sotheby’s Old Greenwich branch closing?

Sotheby's Old Greenwich: a funeral home before, a funeral home again?

That’s what a reader reports. Hey, bad times bring on contractions. Fudrucker’s actually adding employees, but when you start small ….

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We’re going to lose the commander of the Enterprise because of political correctness?

Huge ‘scandal” because the commander of the Enterprise, one of our 11 aircraft carriers, made a series of educational videos, spiced up with non-PC introductions to captures the attention of his 6,000 sailors,  five years ago, when he was XO,  to entertain his sailors. If he was qualified to take command (he was a Top Gunner, served 85 combat missions, then proved his worth on board), and the Navy felt he was the best person available to take charge of the Enterprise, then to dismiss him now for videos made before the Pentagon learned to love gay sailors seems like an incredible waste of talent.

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Just in time for Governor Moonbeam’s inauguration

 Instapundit offers this link:

VICTOR DAVIS HANSON ON GREECE: RAGING AGAINST “THEM.”

A bit of story-telling: When I lived in Greece in the 1970s, it was a relatively poor country. The road system was deplorable; the airport at Athens was little more than an insulated warehouse. I usually stayed in hotels with bathrooms down the hall. A bus trip of about 200 miles translated into about a six hour marathon. The buses were often of eastern European make and spewed black smoke into the Athenian air whose toxic bite could devour marble. Rail travel was nightmarish (biking was quicker). There was no bridge across the Gulf of Corinth. The Athens “subway” was little more than a 19th century electric carriage.

Greeks’ second homes were one bedroom village affairs. It was rare to see a Mercedes in Athens. I knew one Greek who had a swimming pool. Getting off an island ferry boat usually meant meeting a swarm of older ladies trying to hawk you their extra bedroom for rent.

You get the picture:1970s Greece reflected a small southern Balkan population wedded to a siesta lifestyle, on a rocky peninsula in which there was little wealth other than tourism, a poorly developed agriculture, some shipping, and remittances from Greek expatriates in the United States and Germany.

Fast forward to the post-Olympics Greece: five star hotels, 20,000 plus private swimming pools (most of them unreported for tax purposes), half the work force ensconced in cushy government or government-related jobs, Attica dotted with Riviera-like second homes, BMWs more common than Mercedeses, billions of euros worth of new highways, and a new airport and subway system.

In other words, somehow a country without a manufacturing base and with poor productivity, a small population, an inefficient statist economy, and bloated public sector suddenly went from near third world status to a standard of living not that much different from a Munich or Amsterdam. How? Did Greek socialism produce all that wealth?

Well, we know the answer: northern European cash—borrowed, given, or swindled. The radical new affluence in part was justified by the fact that Germans and Scandinavians wanted good infrastructure and facilities when they went on their annual summer Greek vacations—along with pan-EU pipe dreams and fraudulent Greek book keeping that disguised massive debt.

Oz is over with and the Greeks are furious at “them”. Furious in the sense that everyone must be blamed except themselves. So they protest and demonstrate that they do not wish to stop borrowing money to sustain a lifestyle that they have not earned—but do not wish to cut ties either with their EU beneficiaries and go it alone as in the 1970s. So they rage against reality.

The same is true of California. Our elites liked the idea of stopping new gas and oil extraction, shutting down the nuclear power industry, freezing state east-west freeways, strangling the mining and timber industries, cutting off water to agriculture in the Central Valley, diverting revenues from fixing roads and bridges to redistributive entitlements, and praising the new multicultural state that would welcome in half the nation’s 11-15 million illegal aliens. Better yet, the red-state-minded “they” (the nasty upper one-percent who stole from the rest of us due to their grasping but superfluous businesses) began to leave at the rate of 3,000 a week, ensuring the state a Senator Barbara Boxer into her nineties.

Yes, we are proud that we have changed the attitude, lifestyle, and demography of the state, made it “green”, and have the highest paid public employee and the most generous welfare system—and do not have to soil our hands with nasty things like farming, oil production, or nuclear power. And now we are broke. Our infrastructure is crumbling and an embarrassment. My environs is known as “Zimbabwe” or “Appalachia” for its new third-world look that followed from about the highest unemployment and lowest per capita income in the nation. Again, thanks to the deep South our schools are not quite last in reading and math. So of course, like the Greeks, we are mad at somebody other than ourselves. Californians are desperate for a “them” fix. But who is them? “Them” either left, is leaving, or has been shut down.

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Coming our way next year

Incandescent bulb ban hits Europe, CFL manufacturers triple prices. California has jumped the gun on our Congress and banned 100 watt bulbs as of the new year. Lucky Californians.

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Are foreclosures illegal?

That’s what this economics professor claims. He says that the MERS system, created as means to ease mortgage securitization, has destroyed the chain of title necessary to accomplish a legal foreclosure. If he’s right, banks are screwed, and so are future buyers, because there’s going to be no credit available for home purchases – the banks will be too busy absorbing trillions of dollars of losses. I don’t know that he’s right but certainly the issue is going to be litigated all over the country this year.

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