City Farm


    I want this post to bring nostalgia to old timers, and to serve as a primer for young people. The current recession is not letting up. There are signs of economic recovery, but the news from Europe is not very good. The result may be another recession even deeper than the one we have now. The story below is from my childhood. My parents lived through the Great Depression. They knew how to survive. I was born at the end of the depression. My parents lived as though tomorrow would bring another depression. It took seventy-one years to happen, but it has finally arrived. We are on the edge of another Great Depression.

     We lived in a small two-story frame house situated on a 25 ft. wide lot in Chicago.  The house had a porch with steps leading to the city sidewalk.  Between the porch and the side walk there was room for a strip of flowers and a patch of grass.  The parkway had grass and occasionally a tree

     The space between our house and the neighbor’s was a gangway just wide enough to walk through. The back yard is what I want to describe in detail because it saved my family from starving. Immediately behind the house, dad had a postage stamp size lawn bordered on two sides by a flowerbed.  The third side was the sidewalk leading back to the alley; and the fourth side was the house. 

            At the end of the lot, dad built a one-car garage built directly on the ground.  He added a chicken coop to the side with a fenced open space for the birds.

            The plot of ground in between the garage-chicken-coop complex and the flowers along the edge of the lawn was mom’s veggie garden.  The lot was 120 feet long.  In that precious space, mom and dad managed to have a front lawn and flowerbed, a three-bedroom house, a back lawn and flowerbed, a vegetable garden, a chicken ranch and a garage.

            Mom had most of what she needed to feed the family growing right in the backyard.   She planted tomatoes, onions, kohlrabi, cabbage, corn, carrots, parsley, beans, peas, lettuce, radishes, cucumbers, zucchini and more.  What we could not use immediately, she preserved by canning (no freezers).  The chickens provided us with eggs and meat for Sunday dinners. When we did not have chickens, she switched to raising pigeons, and even rabbits.

    When mom could not grow enough in our backyard, she found an empty lot a block away and started another garden.

     Are you ready to begin farming the backyard to feed your family, or are you going to line up to get food stamps?

Stimulus and Spending; Are They Really the Same?

My Flag Flies Everyday

My Flag Flies Everyday

I watched the speech and waited for something that would make sense to me. It didn’t happen. Last night, President Barack Obama addressed the Democratic representatives at their posh retreat in Williamsburg, Virginia. I recall many times during my working life when the company was going through a recession our leader never sent us to a resort for a retreat. Instead, he put the screws to everyone in the company to shape up. That meant working harder, smarter, and with fewer resources. I survived the stress with some long term side effects that I carry to this day. It was never a fun time to let people go, and to work the ones, who remained, harder to get more done.  

I don’t see that happening in the government sector of the economy. The government never lets staff go, they do make it bigger though. Back to the speech. I saw PBO at his finest. His suave and flawless delivery reminded me of his campaign speeches that hypnotized the masses. He did it again last night. I saw something else this time. He definitely had the sound of a black preacher man in his timing and his delivery. The audience of democratic leaders shouting “amen,” to his points of emphasis. Maybe he did listen to the Rev. Jeremiah all those years. He certainly sounded like him.

PBO made a joking reference to the cable networks calling his stimulus bill a spending bill. He railed that spending is stimulus. I like to think there is a slight difference between the two words. A stimulus is a sharp prod to get things to move again. It could be money, and spending. Spending on the other hand is an exhaustion of money, energy, or resources. Over sixty percent of the bill presented by congress was spending that is not a jolt, but rather an ongoing drain. Sure, some of it might even create a job or two, but  not in the short term. If the economy is to be rallied to head off a depression, something more drastic needs to be done. 

PBO kept ranting that he didn’t want to be presented with tired old ideas that don’t work, with the expectation that something different will happen. I agree, “if you keep on doin’ what you been doin’  you’ll keep on gettin’ what you been gettin’.  I also believe that if you want to see a big effect occur, you need to make a big change.

Here is my proposal for big change. It is an old idea, but one that will provide stimulus and long term good health for the economy and the country.

1. Cut ten percent of the employees from every department of the Federal Government. The private sector does this all the  time to cut costs. The president, his cabinet, the house of representatives, the senate, and all employees of the Federal Government take a salary cut of 50% until the economy recovers. Most of us in the private sector will be asked to take reduced wages to save our jobs, why shouldn’t the federal government employees be asked to make the same sacrifice?

2. Balance the budget. Base the budget on twenty percent  less income.

3.  Can the entire SEC. It has a budget of $904 million. They are totally remiss to all of the thieving going on in Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, the banking system, Bernie Madoff, etc.

4. Can the entire Department of Education. It has a budget of $68.6 billion. It is money saved. As many as fifty percent of our kids don’t finish school so why continue to throw more money toward a system that is failing?

5. Can the entire Department of Health and Human Services. It’s budget is a whopping $737 billion dollars. We have a fabulous private health care system, but Medicare is going broke. Who can afford to go on as it is?

Need I go one further? I think I have given the President some bold ideas that he does not have the balls to act on. The tired old idea that does work is this: “Spend less on Government, and the consumer will regain confidence in the economy.”

The money saved by this plan will stimulate the economy because it will require less tax to run the government. The private sector will have more money to invest. “Joe the Citizen” will have more money to spend. All of the people who lose those fat government jobs can work in the private sector doing all the jobs that are currently filled by illegals. With fewer service jobs available to them the illegals will stay in their own countries: another problem solved.

Come on PBO, you can do better than “just words.”

We May Indeed Be Nuts!

My Flag Flies Everyday

My Flag Flies Everyday

I am almost over the election. I haven’t blogged because the need to do so dried up when BO won. This week, however, I have to speak my piece on the latest of Uncle Sam’s idiotic moves. Why do we want to bail out GM? This car company has consistently thrown poor quality, and reliability at us in the name of “Made in the USA.” The same goes for the UAW. I tried my best to hold out by buying American for many years. I owned an Oldsmobile Intrigue for eight years. It was without a doubt, the best GM car I ever owned. I bragged about it’s reliability and performance. I tried in vane to get my kids to buy “American.” No amount of reason or guilt worked. Two of my kids  don’t even know that there are cars made in America that are not Honda or Toyota. They grew up on Honda, and Toyota. They are brand faithful. At the same time I was bragging about my Intrigue with 110,000 miles on it, my daughter bragged about her Honda with 180,000. All she ever did was change oil, and put brakes, tires and gas in it.  At 111,000 miles my Intrigue crapped out. It leaked fluid into the cyclinders and locked the engine tight. After I spent $1800 to replace a leaking intake manifold, I learned on the I-net that GM cars are notorious for this failure. They have had the problem for years, but have never taken any steps to fix it. 

The US car companies, management and the UAW, have let the Japs take them down. Now GM wants the tax payer to bail them out. The argument is that if they are allowed to go bankrupt, many thousands of jobs will be lost, thus fueling the recession.

The truth is that filing for bankruptcy will not be a loss of jobs. They can go on making crappy cars as is their usual business. The difference is that they won’t get any “free money,” from the taxpayer.

A few years ago, GM divested itself of a division called Delphi. Delphi makes electrical systems for GM and other car companies. GM gave Delphi as much pension debt as they could. Eventually, Delphi filed for chapter eleven. They couldn’t make a profit with all the baggage GM dumped on them. I know, because I am a stockholder. Want to know what happens to the stockholder when a company files for bankruptcy? The old shares become worthless, meaning the stockholder loses his investment. GM didn’t give a hoot about losing Delphi, it became Delphi’s problem.  Even though Delphi filed for bankruptcy, it has continued to operate for several years. They keep on shipping orders. They even entertained the purchase of another electronics company. How can a business that is in bankruptcy buy another company?

What GM is afraid of is all it’s incompetent managers losing their options and bonuses paid in stock.

The capitalistic system rewards companies that can design, make, and sell useful products that buyers want. GM does not do any of these things. They design cars that have a shorter life than their competitors, their designs are ugly, and they are made by the most unproductive union in the world, i.e. the UAW.

If we reward GM and the UAW with a government bailout, we are indeed nuts. Let the system work, we’ll all be better off for it. We won’t have to worry about BO turning the country socialist. WE will hand a socialist government to him on a silver platter.