Wall Street Roller Coaster

What do we make of these rapid ups and downs of the stock market lately? I got up this morning to the news that the market had gone down 250 points and by the end of the day the worriers had come back in and the market regained what it lost. A few weeks ago a 900 point drop in thirty minutes or something like that? What on earth is going on in there? It seems like there is a fearfulness that is creating an instability that is unsettling.

So why am I writing about a mystery like high finance? Because the whole financial thing makes me cranky. The banks began giving loans on houses to anyone with a pulse, giving even larger loans than they could afford, taking advantage of the greed of the average schmoe who thought that the market was never going down. Well, guess what schmoes, it went down, and the banks knew it would and played us all for suckers. Yes, all of us are getting the shaft now with property values tanking, loss of taxes revenue, loss of jobs, loss of industry due to loss of spending.

So now we’re cutting government at a level unseen in my lifetime. There aren’t any taxes and so people are going unemployed. I bet they’re all pretty cranky too, and fearful. The next ones to be fearful will be he huge retirement systems who depend on the investments of the little guys employed by government, who are now unemployed, and who may come calling for some of their retirement money from their account. If enough f these people start to take out their money, I would think it could cause retirement system problems.

I wrote a year or so back that I figured we hadn’t fallen to the bottom of the economic dust heap yet, we’d just stopped on a ledge part way down the cliff. I’m not sure I’m right any more, but I could be. Hope I am not. But I still see tons of houses in foreclosure, and with the unemployment there are bound to be more coming.

I see the nervousness on Wall Street as evidence that not all is well. The rats begin to jump off the ship when anyone sneezes economically overseas, all is not well, yet.

Cranky About “Deep Cleaning”

So maybe it’s just me, but I doubt it.

Business being business, and medicine being business, where did this deep cleaning in dentistry come from? Suddenly after like 46 years of owning teeth, they need to scrape my teeth all the way down to my tonsils? Give me a break, it’s an excuse to do the same old cleaning, the same old way, using lots of Novocaine and calling it “deep cleaning”. It’s a scam (unless my immigrant dentist is reading in which case I am TOTALLY OK with whatever you do with a stainless steel needle in your hands).

So tonight I taste my beer on one side of my mouth (because they are only allowed to do one half of the mouth at a time by the insurance companies – huh? What the? How does this reduce anyone’s cost?)

But I am still a thankful – albeit cranky dental patient – person.

  • The Daily Grind « Follow That Elephant! – Remember when you were in middle school with mouth-full of braces, a retainer or, worse, a headgear? Do you remember being called “metal mouth” and being totally unable to sleep at night with all those contraptions on? …

  • Finland for Thought » My First Trip to the Public Dentist … – Continuing with this month’s “Beating a dead horse”-campaign here on Finland for Thought, I thought I’d share experiences from my first trip to the public dentist in Finland. As you probably know, Espoo city didn’t take appointments for …


I’m officially a Petro-Zombie. Just coined this new term to describe myself having paid $2.99 per gallon and experiencing slight euphoria at discovering the distilled dino-juice at less than $3 per gal. (yeah, yeah Europe, before you comment, I know you pay a lot more over yonder)

I Hate Leaf Blowers

Each Tuesday the gardener comes to my workplace and each Tuesday he spends about a half hour – seems like much more – moving round leaves and debris outside the office with his leaf blower. This greenhouse gas emitting monstrosity sounds like a small 2 cycle motorcycle being constantly rev’d up. Even on a day like today when the wind is blowing steadily, this ardent leaf blowing enthusiast battles the wind and blows leaves in front of him while mother nature blows them back in behind him. On some days, as I try to read or write, I have the violent urge to pull his spark plug cord off the top of his spark plug and snip it in two pieces with my scissors, slap him on both cheeks and challenge him to a duel, leaf rakes at 50 paces. But I don’t, being a peaceful sort of person, instead I just inhale the leaf blowing fumes and write cranky blogs. It helps me through Tuesday, at least until next week.

Immigration Law in Arizona

Interesting debate sparked by Arizona, know for its extremely right-wing politics. The basic thing is Arizonans – or Arizoni – want local law enforcement to arrest people who are breaking the immigration laws. It’s out of frustration with the Federal Government failure to secure the borders.

On the surface, it seems like a logical thing to do because A) law enforcement’s most fundamental job is after all, law enforcement; B) illegal immigrants are here, well, illegally; C) there is terrible unemployment here and it’s hard for a citizen to find a job.

So what to do? Arizona’s answer is to arrest and deport.

So now we get into the immigrant politics. Ever heard of the Nortenos and the Surenos? These are gangs in California they also use the monikers of the 13’s and the 14’s. So why two Mexican gangs you may ask? Well the answer is simple, Mexicans who are born here don’t like Mexicans who are illegal, they even call the immigrants “Scraps”. Why you may ask? Well, I’ve asked a few people and the answer is simple, for the same reasons that everyone else doesn’t like them coming illegally – simply this – they take jobs at lower wages than those of us who pay taxes can afford to.

Plain and simple. But wait a minute, is it?

I wish it were so simple. An interesting thing happened on my way to take pictures of the protest, I cam across numerous crews of illegal immigrants mowing the lawns of the people marching. Now, you may say, WAIT A MINUTE YOU CRANKY OLD FART, and they’d be right. I don’t have evidence the people marching hire illegals, but I found it fascinating that there were whole crews of them mowing and trimming and leaf-blowing on my way to the see the protest at California’s Capitol.

Interestingly, passing behind me an elderly couple observing the procession from across the street personified the divide of people walking on opposite sides of that street.  The old man called out “Good for Arizona”.  I don’t think he was heard above the “Si se puede!” chanting of the thousands.

Long ago I was part of a group that supported and promoted the success of Latinos in my town. I was the sole gringo on the Board. A comment back in 1994 caught my ear. One guy on the Board commented in Spanish that Latinos have a “feurza” from So. Cal to San Jose and that it was growing and getting stronger. His conviction was that California was destined to become a Latino State and anyone who has been to LA lately would likely agree.

A guy I worked for in about 1978 who had been a labor organizer in the Central Valley told me and I quote, “They’re taking it back without firing a shot.” Meaning that the Mexican workers were coming in mass numbers and taking control of the state by sheer numbers, and without violence.

Jared Diamond in “Guns, Germs, and Steel” asserted that one culture overcame another either by superior technology or through disseminating them by infecting them with diseases they were unable to resist. I think he overlooked a key concept, reproduction in overwhelming numbers. Diamond missed an additional concept that should have been added, superior libido combined with almost total disregard for upward mobility. Latinos like many 3rd world people are more interested in ensuring their comfortable old age than in providing ski vacations. They’d rather pay to feed 8 kids than take two to Disneyland every summer. They know that their survival as older people, seniors, doesn’t rely on a 401k but the willingness and ability of their children to care for them. They come from a different system, a different culture, and this culture says reproduce, be fruitful and multiply, and they are, and they’re overwhelming the whites because they have more kids.

So this thing in Arizona is one of the last acts of a dying culture, a shrinking ethnicity (at least percentage-wise in the border states), a dying idea – and it’s dying or at the very least on the wane on several levels. Whites are still in power politically, but their days are numbered. Whites are still in power financially, but their days are numbered. Whites are no longer in the majority, their number is up.

Will Latinos do it better than whites. I’m not hopeful about that, just look at the corruption of the Latino countries where bribery (mordidas) is just part of doing business and living. Unless the Latinos coming here are doing so to discard old, failed ways, it’s going to be a mess, but there’s no stopping it. My advice, learn Spanish and get ready to pay mordidas to do business.