Finding Adventure...

The Great Marriage Debate

As most readers of this blog already know, the NC General Assembly has placed a referendum on the ballot at the upcoming Republican primary election to add a state constitutional amendment to define marriage as being between one man and one woman. This would simply be a stronger position supporting the state law that already says the same thing, and would certainly make it harder to change that law in the future.

This has caused a lot of backlash, most notably with this def shephard blog post that's been making the rounds. It's good reading, even if you disagree with the stance. I have a much different take, however.

To me, this boils down to an argument between those who prefer marriage to be defined as a union between one man and one woman and those who want it defined as a union between any two people.

But why? There are lots of reasons that the LGBT community wants legal marriage status, but the only ones that really matter are the ones that are government influenced (as far as this discussion is concerned, anyway). Things like tax breaks for married couples, insurance issues, etc. Otherwise, it's really just about "recognition." Now, I think the folks who want this change are attacking it from the wrong angle. I'd personally rather see, and would support, changes that take the government out of marriage entirely. No tax breaks for simply being married, no link between insurance and marriage, etc. No laws whatsoever governing "marriage." It would simply be something that churches or other entities can recognize. Why does it need to be anything more?

The ultra-conservatives would say that taking away this government recognized system is further eroding some sort of moral fiber. I say hogwash. People already do what people want to do, and the fact that we have gay couples living together in NC and ready at the instant the law is changed to become married (or those going to other states to do it), is proof of that. Just because the government stops telling people NOT to do something does not mean the government suddenly supports DOING it. It simply means the government doesn't have any interest in it, and in this case, I don't see why the government needs to have that interest.

The last question is fairly simple...for those who believe allowing the LGBT community to marry, why draw the line there? Why is polygamy illegal? What's so special about the number "two"? I don't personally care about polygamy, but it is just another line in the sand...
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Why do we hate entrepreneurs?

This was forwarded to me by my Dad from the forum and I think it deserves sharing. Thanks to the original author.

This Is Why There Are No Jobs in America

I'd like to make you a business offer.

Seriously. This is a real offer. In fact, you really can't turn me down, as you'll come to understand in a moment…

Here's the deal. You're going to start a business or expand the one you've got now. It doesn't really matter what you do or what you're going to do. I'll partner with you no matter what business you're in – as long as it's legal.

But I can't give you any capital – you have to come up with that on your own. I won't give you any labor – that's definitely up to you. What I will do, however, is demand you follow all sorts of rules about what products and services you can offer, how much (and how often) you pay your employees, and where and when you're allowed to operate your business. That's my role in the affair: to tell you what to do.

Now in return for my rules, I'm going to take roughly half of whatever you make in the business each year. Half seems fair, doesn't it? I think so. Of course, that's half of your profits.

You're also going to have to pay me about 12% of whatever you decide to pay your employees because you've got to cover my expenses for promulgating all of the rules about who you can employ, when, where, and how. Come on, you're my partner. It's only "fair."

Now… after you've put your hard-earned savings at risk to start this business, and after you've worked hard at it for a few decades (paying me my 50% or a bit more along the way each year), you might decide you'd like to cash out – to finally live the good life.

Whether or not this is "fair" – some people never can afford to retire – is a different argument. As your partner, I'm happy for you to sell whenever you'd like… because our agreement says, if you sell, you have to pay me an additional 20% of whatever the capitalized value of the business is at that time.

I know… I know… you put up all the original capital. You took all the risks. You put in all of the labor. That's all true. But I've done my part, too. I've collected 50% of the profits each year. And I've always come up with more rules for you to follow each year. Therefore, I deserve another, final 20% slice of the business.

Oh… and one more thing…

Even after you've sold the business and paid all of my fees… I'd recommend buying lots of life insurance. You see, even after you've been retired for years, when you die, you'll have to pay me 50% of whatever your estate is worth.

After all, I've got lots of partners and not all of them are as successful as you and your family. We don't think it's "fair" for your kids to have such a big advantage. But if you buy enough life insurance, you can finance this expense for your children.

All in all, if you're a very successful entrepreneur… if you're one of the rare, lucky, and hard-working people who can create a new company, employ lots of people, and satisfy the public… you'll end up paying me more than 75% of your income over your life. Thanks so much.

I'm sure you'll think my offer is reasonable and happily partner with me… but it doesn't really matter how you feel about it because if you ever try to stiff me – or cheat me on any of my fees or rules – I'll break down your door in the middle of the night, threaten you and your family with heavy, automatic weapons, and throw you in jail.

That's how civil society is supposed to work, right? This is Amerika, isn't it?

That's the offer Amerika gives its entrepreneurs. And the idiots in Washington wonder why there are no new jobs…


Porter Stansberry

Willful Foreclosure?

This past week, 60 Minutes did a story on a new trend...people willfully walking away from their mortgage and house. That's right, people who can afford their mortgages choosing to not pay them.

Why would someone do that? The quick version is some states have laws protecting your assets entirely in the event of a foreclosure. So folks in particularly hard hit real estate markets who bought houses around 2006 now find their home value at roughly half what they paid. To add insult to injury, that means they can now rent a NICER home for around half what their mortgage payment is. So they've done the math and realized that just walking away and waiting on their credit to recover is cheaper in the long run than continuing to pay.

The story even featured a likable couple who went on camera and admitted they were in the process of doing this. They didn't feel bad in the least. They even chose to live in the house six months without paying because that's about how long it will take to get foreclosed on and evicted. All the while saving that mortgage/rent money. And Arizona state law protects the money they have in the bank, the cars they have paid for, and all the rest of their assets.

So why shouldn't they? I'll tell you why. Because it's not the bank's fault. It's not the bank's responsibility to prop up their bad choice. It might not be completely their fault, either, but let's face it, they'd have ZERO recourse had they saved up or inherited enough money to have bought that house outright. If it was paid for, they'd be living every day in a house now worth half what they paid. But would they be "out" anything? Nope. Not unless they chose to SELL it for less than they paid. But that would be a willing choice.

They leave the bank with no choice. The bank entered an agreement with them to help them buy their house. Sure, the bank stood to make money on the deal, but that's what banks do. Well, that's what they used to do. If everyone who could started doing this, well, they wouldn't be able to any longer.

In my opinion, it's legal theft. And the only reason it is legal is because a law was created to help protect consumers without ever thinking about a situation like this. Yes, the law needs to be changed, and needs to be changed quickly. I just can't for the life of me understand why the bank should be left holding the bag on a couple hundred thousand dollars of losses in cases like this. These people are gainfully employed, have a life savings, have no money troubles whatsoever. Yet the law is letting them stick it to the bank. A bank who did nothing more than help them in the first place.

It's just wrong, and people should know better and take responsibility for their own financial problems instead of pushing it off on someone else like that. Kudos to 60 Minutes for not listing which states this is legal in (other than Arizona). All they said was it's legal in 10 states right now in some form. I hope it isn't legal in mine.
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Towns banning cellphone use while driving

So, currently there's no data to support the fact that accidents decrease in places that ban handheld cellphone use while driving. Yet towns like Chapel Hill want to make it illegal to use a handheld phone while driving. The best you can do is cite a AAA study that claims you're just as impaired while talking on a cellphone as if you had a blood acohol level of 0.08, which is the legal limit. So you're just impaired enough to be BORDERLINE too drunk to drive and thus we need to ban them? And the study is by the AAA, for goodnesssakes. Can we get some data from more than one source on this before we do it?

And honestly, I don't believe this is the kind of thing a town should be allowed to legislate anyway. The article states that the state legislature has to allow them to do this, which is good, unless the state actually does allow it. Then it's bad. Why? Because I can't think of a single reason why something that's bad enough we should ban it in Chapel Hill isn't something we should ban statewide. And if you think "oh, no, it's safer to talk on your handheld phone when traveling in rural areas", well, fine. That still means EVERY city should ban it, which is something the legislature could just do. I mean seriously, do you want to have to worry about what the law is in every city you go in and out of? Heck, they don't even mark the city borders on every road! How are we supposed to KNOW what the law is where we are?

It's rediculous, especially since many people (like myself) live outside Chapel Hill and would have little say in the creation of this law. I suppose I can lobby my state representatives if Chapel Hill chooses to ask for this, but really...I shouldn't have to. Note that nowhere am I claiming it's a safe thing to do. But we should be having this discussion at the state level only.
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Gun rights.

Call me crazy, but I just don't see any rational argument with any of this. Preach on, Ted.

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So by now most everyone should know about the pirates off the Somali coast that have been taking large ships and their crew hostage. They made around $80M in 2008 alone (from ransom). Amazing. Now the Navy is getting more involved and using drones capable of deploying weapons to patrol the seas.

That's an interesting attempt, but experts say it won't do much to deter the bandits. They say the biggest thing that would help would be fixing the Somali government, but that doesn't seem like a plausible solution. My solution? Get a big juicy cargo ship, mark it up properly, load it with empty containers, and a couple dozen Navy Seals. Just let it run around collecting up pirates. I mean they "attack" from tiny boats usually with less than ten bandits and some handheld automatic weapons. At best it seems they have some handheld rocket launchers, too. No match for Navy Seals. Probably no match for McHale's Navy, either, but let's not take any chances. Send in the pros.

Let them video each capture for evidence in whatever international court they get tried in and just keep doing it until the pirates quit. They might never quit, but we could just do it forever using it as a training tool for Seals. Just rotate them through every few months. And if a few pirates get killed trying to do their thing, so be it. Heck, let National Geographic do a reality TV show around it. I'd watch that.
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Spinning a fact into a lie?

According to this blog, I'm "spinning a fact into a lie". How so? By my previous blog entry pointing out that President Obama did nothing to deserve to be nominated before February 1 of this year, I'm curious what lie I've spun? No, he wasn't talking about me specifically, just everyone out there pointing out this little problem.

It seems clear to me. He didn't do anything to deserve nomination, but this writer appears to think that's okay since Hitler and a whole host of other people have been nominated in the past who were clearly undeserving. Oh, yeah, that makes perfect sense. How silly of us to be pointing out that he shouldn't have been nominated and therefore not able to win an award that he somehow won without deserving it either way.
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More information on the Nobel Peace Prize

According to this official link, the Nobel Peace Prize is selected from people nominated by February 1. What had Barack Obama done to change the world between January 20 and February 1 to receive such a nomination? I suppose he could have won it based on things he did before becoming the forty-fourth President of the United States, but I'll be darned if I can figure out what that could be. I mean he was pretty busy doing nothing more than campaigning for that entire year leading up to November, and he sort of couldn't do much until he was inaugurated.

I'd be baffled, if it weren't already obvious that the Nobel committee is nothing but a group of people with a political agenda. See Al Gore's award. Whether you agree with Mr. Gore's ideas or not, what "peace" has he brought to the world through his environmental work? Is it important and potentially worthy of high award? Sure! But the Nobel Peace Prize?

Obama wins Nobel Peace Prize? Seriously?

So the list of Nobel Peace Prize winners includes Martin Luther King, Jr., Mother Teresa, Desmond Tutu, the Dalai Lama, and Nelson Mandela. And now we add Obama to the list? Why? Well, according to the committee “He has created a new international climate” with respect to his campaign goal of a "world without nuclear weapons." Maybe I'm crazy, but I didn't see his administration do anything different than any other administration has done since the Reagan years when it came to issues like Iran and North Korea doing nuclear work. Nothing, zip, zero. Can someone please enlighten me as to how he's done anything at all different or better?

The NY Times can't even come up with any good reasons for this selection. Their next stated reason was Obama's speech in Cairo. I admit that was well received, but I'm not sure I've seen much lasting effect. Even so, this speech wasn't so great it puts you on the Nobel Peace Prize list, I don't think. The next item they list is he sought to restart peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians. Who hasn't?!? Make some headway on that one and get back to me, will ya?

So could it be that the Nobel folks think he's going to do great things and that's why they gave him the prize? They say that's not the case, then all but say it is:
“We are not awarding the prize for what may happen in the future, but for what he has done in the previous year,” Mr. Jagland said. “We would hope this will enhance what he is trying to do.”
Let's look at some other items from Obama's campaign rhetoric that would have been things that might have won a Nobel Peace Prize:
  • closing the prison at Guantanamo: Still not done
  • ending the war in Iraq: Still not done
  • ending the war in Afghanistan: Going the OTHER way! It's getting worse!
And while not necessarily campaign promises, in reality we have North Korea doing whatever they please with respect to nuclear weapons, Iran doing more and not less since Obama took office (sure, the current trend is they now say they're willing to "talk", but that means unless we make concessions for them they're going to do what they want), and Israelis and Palestinians still going at it just like always.

All I can say is perhaps he did more for peace than anyone else did in the last year. That would be a sad state, but perhaps it is true. I certainly can't come up with anyone else who did anything significant at all. But maybe they should have just picked a current Iraqi government leader? Those guys are trying to help their country and are hunted in thanks for it. *sigh*

At any rate, another thing I find strange is that the Nobel Peace Prize has a cash award currently worth $1.4M. Wonder what President Obama is going to do with that money?
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US Healthcare vs the rest of the developed world


Some very interesting facts packed into a short, easy-to-read article. Thanks to Chris for posting this on Facebook. This is a great read if you want to know the direction we really need to be taking on healthcare reform. Get rid of for-profit insurance on healthcare and clean up administrative costs. Add in tort reform and the article would have covered it all!
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