I’ve come to a conclusion: Empirical evidence suggesting that the new age, world-is-connected idea is bullshit, considering that everybody, except those in Tallahassee (who think a football game is more important than morals, accountability, and societal norms) is rooting against the Seminoles. It’s no secret that the quarterback – the leader and face of the team – has been accused of:

1) stealing soda from a Burger King. An employee reported that, after not buying anything, the QB asking for a water cup and continually filled it with soda.

2) the QB was seen on surveillance video shoplifting crab legs. Where I come from, shoplifting equates to more than just community service.

3) the QB jumped on a bench at school and yelled/proclaimed “fuck her right in the pussy.”

4) the QB was handcuffed for shooting a BB gun at squirrels “on campus,” then was released when it was determined he was “not on campus.” “OOPS – THAT’S OUT OF MY JURISDICTION”….. that must happen alllll the time. Dang noobie campus cops.

5) the QB was implicated in receiving money for signing hundreds of autographs (this I’m not opposed to, if a university sells jerseys with your number on it and uses you as a money-making tool… though that still doesn’t mean you have the freedom to do whatever you want.)

6) oh yeah, there’s the sexual assault investigation. Although the QB has never gone to trial or faced any charges, the G.D. primary investigator has done work for the main financing arm of FSU Athletics – the Seminole Boosters. No weird, conflict of interest there at all. No sir! The latest is that the QB’s lawyer is pushing to have the code of conduct hearing being delayed until after the football season. How amazingly convenient that would be. “The prospect of justice can wait…. Now let’s get out there and win some games!”

Maybe the problem is society. It’s that, after the QB’s half-game suspension was announced, fans in Tallahassee were loudly proclaiming “If we lose this game, it’s because you ratted out our QB for asking for EVEN MORE ATTENTION and yelling inappropriate things!” Football is more important than real life, of course! The problem is the lawyers pushing to have hearings pushed. It the university, allowing to have hearings pushed. It’s the Seminole Boosters. It’s the campus police. It’s the TEAM. It’s society, for tuning in, hoping for the worst (including me) and the sponsors, who are making a ton of money because people like me are tuning in, hoping for (finally) a repercussion for one (or many) wrongs. The problem is the coach, for acting like there’s a conspiracy brewing when your team’s rankings drop after the receivers drop passes, the QB throws a bunch of interceptions, and the team has crappy opponents most of the season.

Sure, there’s a conspiracy, and ulterior motive, if you want to call it that. The brewing conspiracy is that the majority wants YOU to fail. People are fed up with this crap, with the complacency and excuses.

If the universe has shown it doesn’t revolve around new age, the-world-is-connected ideas, people are at least waiting for the concept of karma to prove itself.

Personally, given the QB’s ankle issues as of late, I wouldn’t be at all opposed to hearing about an abduction from campus and a “Misery” moment. In good conscious, I absolutely can’t support any S.O.B. who has had innumerable societal infractions. After all, I’ve heard there is some truth to any rumor.

It’s amazing to think that numerous crazies have scaled the White House fence for no apparent, good reason this year but, to my knowledge, no dipshits have tried to bring some vigilante justice to an equally important force in America – football.

A lofty but real dream of mine is to make as much money as possible, then move to another continent, because American football and half of society on that host continent is so occupied with complete bullshit. Check out yahoo.com right now. What you will see is likely this: “news” about how Amanda Bynes is insane or bipolar, Kim Kardashian “breaking the internet,” with naked pics of her huge butt (weird, since she’s not even the most attractive Kardashian, anyhow), or Kristen Stewart suffering a “nip slip” at an awards show.

We think we’re so advanced and ahead of the world, but how can we be when we’re really more like a bunch of neanderthals, getting off on pics of nip slips (how exiting, right?!) I have nipples, and you have nipples, too. We’re also completely obsessed with hoping a bunch of football players lose. I can’t think of anything more inconsequential, except that a single, alpha male in our society is working towards being awarded, at the highest level, with prestige and millions of dollars in his pocket, and it’s driving me crazy that society will likely allow that to happen.

That’s right – “millions of dollars” – just like other alpha males such as Ben Roethliseberger, Mike Tyson, Lawrence Taylor, Tom Brady, and Dave Meggett. Upstanding citizens.

One can only hope that such a person goes the way of recent, polarizing figures and, at most, the QB ends up getting signed at the highest level, and then absolutely nothing comes from it. That would reinstate my believe in not the new age, world-is-connected ideas, but instead, pure karma.

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He took his own life. “How?” is the question I’ve gotten the most. Where I’m originally from, drugs are the likely culprit. Last year, heroin claimed the lives of two people I went to school with. I was starting to think the Midwest – Ohio – was like some sort of vortex, where there is just so little hope and people get caught up in that momentary escape/high…. that was until Phillip Seymour Hoffman OD’d on Super Bowl Sunday. But it wasn’t heroin that took the life of my friend, nor was it any drug.

Quite frankly, “How?” is a question I can’t answer. The wonder has crossed my mind, but the answer isn’t something I’ve asked. It’s something I don’t really want to know. The last thing I want is a mental image of how those last seconds or minutes could have faded away.

What’s really important here isn’t me or my perspective – it’s the heartache, the your-heart’s-been-completely-ripped-in-two-pieces anguish for so many people that was caused by one person’s momentary decision. I’ve been there, I’ve thought those thoughts, but fuck that – I’ve wondered what other people would think… my parents… my siblings… my friends… my nieces and nephews. In this case, I wish the guilt brought on by over-analysis would have outweighed those low points that everyone has. Not to diminish, but we all have our ups and downs. Some situations come about and are more serious than others, but leaving your children behind is something I can’t understand. I’m sure it’s something my friend couldn’t understand, either… No one could foresee the events that would come, though I remember him telling me, at a young age, of his dad’s decision to leave this world behind.

What’s left, though, are memories…. really good memories and a lot of them… camping out in my dad’s backyard, making prank phone calls, drinking Surge all night, then going skateboarding at 6 AM. Walking along Shaker Creek, seeing an absolutely massive bird that seemingly could have been a very-lost California Condor. Band practice upstairs, then downstairs when the family moved. Playing Tool’s “Stinkfist” in front of the whole school at the talent show in 8th grade. Amber. Playing Korn’s “Blind” at the talent show in 9th grade and all the practice involved with that. Uncle Tommy, at point-blank range, pulling the trigger on an empty paintball gun pointed at my head. Working in live sound together. Working at a haunted trail together for a couple seasons. The Korg ER-1. Buying two drum sets (the crappy black one and the shiny silver one). Many years later- going to a dueling piano bar in Long Beach and having a few beers, talking about making amends. On the last visit here, having beers at the Ramada bar, talking more about making amends… the Universal City overlook on Mulholland Drive and looking down on all the city lights, when he put his mom on speakerphone, saying “Guess who I’m with right now?”

Admittedly, this is a difficult time, but I think my buddy was happy here in that moment… proud of where he was and what I’ve done. I took the plunge, made the move, and got away from that place where everyone automatically assumes that every death is an overdose.

My friend- I miss you and will continue to do so… not that I expect you to be reading my WordPress account from up on high. But I just want your spirit/your soul/you to know that I hate your decision but yet remain proud of some of your accomplishments…. wish you were here, buddy. I wish it was as easy as saying “come on back,” but it sure as hell is not.

Friends, and anonymous people that visit this page, if you ever feel like you need to escape this world, consider that there are people out there who love and respect you…people who would be distraught and feel completely lost without you around. It’s true. People aren’t psychics – they can’t read what you are feeling, even if you think it’s obvious, so please do yourself a favor (and everyone else) and reach out. I’m a good listener, and there are hotlines available to help, too. 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

 

On a songwriters’ forum, one poster was asking if it’s safe to post original songs to Youtube that don’t yet have a copyright (meaning registered with the U.S. Copyright Office). Here is one response:

“just have a copy of the song with an earlier date. I think that would be enough.”

Good thing it’s prefaced with “I think” because that doesn’t work. You can adjust your computer so it displays any time and day you choose. Consequently, creating a copy of any digital file with a time/date stamp isn’t going to help when it comes to making a copyright claim.

Additionally, the age-old “poor man’s copyright” technique doesn’t hold up, either. We did this a few times, many years ago, in one of the rock bands I played in: slide a CD with your original music on it into an envelope and mail it to yourself. The envelope shows the day the stamp was cancelled, so the government’s involvement makes it official, right? NO! Envelopes can be tampered with. Heck, you could probably tuck in the flap on the envelope (so as to not seal it), send it through mail that way, AND THEN plop a CD in there at any later date… or tape down the flap, send the CD, and retape it later when you’ve got a disc with more songs (or whatever) on it. Point being, the “poor man’s copyright” will, unfortunately, do nothing for you in a bind.

What you can and should do is this: pony up the $35 registration fee and make it official. Admittedly, when I first registered, I was concerned about how much it would cost. Would I have to register all my songs individually or what? Generally speaking, and be sure to read the descriptions on the Copyright Office’s website before taking this at face value: You can clump all your demos together (if the songwriters are the same on all of them) and use Form PA (Performing Arts). That registration will protest the gist of the song, melody, and words. For a completed album or final song mix, use Form SR (Sound Recording). Remember, though, bundle what songs you can together so you aren’t continually paying the $35 fee.

Registering your work can eat up a fair amount of time, and money, as mentioned. But if you’re serious about your artistic work and the time and effort put into it, you need to make sure it’s protected.

Lastly, it’s important to note that a copyright happens automatically WHEN YOU CREATE A WORK. But proving that creation is key. Whether you’ve registered or not, put one of these little doodads next to your work if you’re concerned someone might try to rip you off – ©

Here is where you can register your work (here in the U.S.) and find info that’s, you know, not on a forums or a blog! – http://www.copyright.gov

People are mad. Wahhhh. Boo hoo. “Why should Jay-Z and Beyonce get to go to Cuba when I can’t?” Well, the truth is, you might be able to. People just rush to conclusions because they heard someone say something about an embargo and travel restrictions and such. Honestly, until recently, I thought to get to Cuba, you would have to go through Mexico or some other country. Officially, the State Department says something like “If you do go and get in trouble, we can’t help you. But you can go if it’s sanctioned.” That last part is really important as, just before people started boo-hooing about these celebrities who get special treatment anyway, I received this email from my alma mater (in screenshot form and sorry it cuts off due to my blog theme – click to see the full image):

Image

So there you have it. Officially, the U.S. government only grants regular citizens access to Cuba if it’s “educational.” But IT DOES grant U.S. citizens access to Cuba. And if it must be educational and your only purpose to go there is to explore, is it not simple to make the argument that you’re learning about a different culture? Thus, it’s an educational experience.

The point here is that most people really have absolutely no idea what any of the Cuba-related travel restrictions are and aren’t. I’m not an expert on them, but I’m not going to go overboard, either, about some restrictions that shouldn’t even exist at all. I know a few folks originally from Cuba. They’re good people and have insight into the country that I otherwise never would have gotten. Like with North Korea, Cuba is largely known as being a poor nation, but it’s not the leadership that’s suffered from decades of trade embargoes – it’s the people.

If our country were so free, we shouldn’t have to justify trips to anywhere by saying it’s “educational.” More-so, we should be able to travel simply because we want to.

Holy cripes! This has been a very long, yet adult kind of day. For the first time, I’ve had Bulleit bourbon and Pinnacle Cake vodka… in a very short amount of time. Those are taking a toll right now, and that’s because both are awesome.

First things first, I guess I’m not quite a bourbon expert like I once thought. I can certainly tell the difference between Woodford Reserve and Maker’s Mark but, when it comes to Bulleit, well, it simply just tastes like bourbon.

Based on the recommendation from a coworker, I decided to give Bulleit a try today. My first impression is that it’s very woody (oak) and has a lingering vanilla finish. It’s good but just kinda tastes like… well… bourbon. There isn’t anything amazingly unique about it, but it’s good and enjoyable.

As for this Pinnacle Cake vodka…. wow. It’s really sweet. The first time I had Pinnacle vodka was when those closest to me toasted and gave me a shot at a local bowling alley. It was Pinnacle’s “Whipped (cream)” vodka, and it was really unique and surprisingly awesome… must be chemicals in there, sort of like those spoken about in the book “Fast Food Nation” that makes the drink taste pretty authentic. Whatever is in it, it’s good and makes for a fun Saturday night.

Tonight I made a “Buttercream Icing” drink which, according to the Pinnacle website, consists of the following: 2 parts cake vodka, 1/2 part butterscotch schnapps, 1 part half and half (I used milk), and a dollop of whipped cream on top. Aside from the whipped cream, the three ingredients are shaken and served cold.

For a full description of drink recipes, check out:
http://www.pinnaclevodka.com/downloads/Pinnacle-Vodka-Cocktail-Catalog.pdf

First and foremost, happy new year to you all. I hope it’s a good, blessed one for many of you. :p

So, kidding aside, hopefully you rang in the new year in whatever way you wanted to ring it in. As for me, I traveled….again. It’s somewhat of a common theme, in between those new years eve nights where I literally do nothing aside from having a beer and/or glass of champagne while watching TV. On the more exciting occasions, I’ve celebrated NYE in Times Square, Washington DC, Cincinnati, and now San Francisco. It was a blast (no pun intended, considering the fireworks!) Let me tell you alllll about it.

 

Rearview Mirror Reflection of Clouds

Reflections on the Past


 

So, the first stop on this roadtrip, six hours north of home, was Napa Valley. The last (and only) time I had been there, I was 17. When you’re that age, wineries aren’t very fun. Back then, I was offered a lovely tasting of water. It was a real bummer, as my father and brother lived the life of connoisseurs, analyzing the wine bouquet and notes of lovely-sounding things like chocolate and berries.

As for this recent visit, the quick stop in Napa was sort of a letdown. The area is always so hyped up, but I didn’t find it to be any more impressive than the central California/Santa Barbara-area wineries. Both areas are beautiful, and in both regions you’ll find a combo of hits and misses. Also, it’s worth noting that tastings in Napa are more expensive than the other wine regions I’ve visited. At some places, the pours are very conservative, and you might only get to taste three wines for $20. I’ve read that some Napa tastings even run about $40!

A coworker highly recommended Gott’s Roadside (formerly called Taylor’s Refresher), which is a small, three-store burger joint. On location is in Napa, another is in St. Helena (near Mondavi Winery), and the third is in San Francisco. We stopped at the St. Helena location and, despite the frigid temperature, there was a long line at the outdoor order window. It didn’t take too long to figure out why the place was so hoppin’… it was delicious! My Wisconsin Sourdough burger and onion rings seemed really fresh, and excess grease was minimal. That’s not to say I didn’t feel sick to my stomach a while later, after gorging myself… but that’s my bad.

 

From there, the next notable destination was the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose. My first impression was the location was really surprising. Photos seem to give the feeling that it’s fairly isolated or perhaps situated at the forefront of a suburban neighborhood. That’s not really the case at all. Rather, the home is effectively surrounded by a business/mall complex, movie theaters, and a freeway. Except for the heavy mall traffic on a Saturday night, that discovery wasn’t off-putting or anything… just very different from what was expected.

 
Rear View of Winchester Mystery House in San Jose
 

Taking the first Grand Tour of the morning was probably a wise move. The group seemed small – about 10 people – and, for the basement tour, there were four of us. The tour guide was expecting 12, so it was great to have that more-personal attention. The basement wasn’t too exciting, except for seeing how much the wood beams supporting the house wore down during the 1906 earthquake.

As for the main tour, I really enjoyed it. Imaging little ol’ Mrs. Winchester (it’s said she was 4′ 10″) wandering the corridors, forever trying to appease the spirits, was really something. The architecture is beautiful, and the monstrosity of the house is amazing, yet the mansion didn’t have that creepy factor like I always expected. It was a daytime tour, though, so maybe that had something to do with it. And maybe my previous work on Ghost Hunters has made me a little more skeptical of those types of situations. Weird, unexplainable occurrences have happened – I can attest to that – but they are so few and far between that you can’t anticipate much.

 

San Francisco was next on the agenda. I had been warned against driving in the city, due to parking being next to impossible. Maybe it was a fluke due to the holidays and such, but it worked out okay.

 
Golden Gate Bridge Wide
 

The first night, we parked a few blocks south of the marina. It was right at 7 PM, and as I was about to put coins in the meter, the light on it stopped flashing and it shut off. So did all the other meters up the street. Free parking and perfect timing! Cha-ching! So, metered parking isn’t 24/7, which can help save you some cash.

Ending up in the same neighborhood the following day, I discovered some free, 4 hour max. parking near Ghirardelli Square. We parked there, spent a couple hours biking to and across the Golden Gate Bridge, moved the car to a different parking spot, and spent a couple hours at dinner. It worked out great.

 
Night View of Golden Gate Bridge
 

As the day started to wind down and the New Years Eve festivities were starting to pick up, we headed east. We finally had to pay for garage parking, and walked to the Embarcadero. 200,000 revelers fill up that area every year for New Years Eve, so it was pretty wild. Plenty of people had apparently spent the hours leading up to midnight at the bar, so there was a lot of inebriated energy in the air.

 
San Francisco Ferry Building
 

With the giant crowd concentrated near the Ferry Building, we headed up the street and staked out a spot on Pier 3. It turned out to be perfect, as the firework display looked awesome with the Bay Bridge as the backdrop.

 
New Years Eve Fireworks over San Francisco Bay
 

Overall, it was a great, quick roadtrip but a great way to end one year and kick off a new one. Have a great year, everyone. Cheers!

 
Painted Ladies Row Houses in San Fran
 

Wine is a tricky thing. The output between two years is never quite alike because no two growing and harvesting cycles are quite the same. Some days see rain, others not. Some days are stifling and others are perfect. It’s just always different, day to day, year to year. That’s part of what makes it fun – the unknown… and the hunt for a product cultivated under “optimal” conditions (whatever that is). But the wine hobby can also be a frustrating one. That part comes from finding a go-to favorite and realizing how elusive it becomes once new stock is released and the stores stop carrying your favorite year.

My interest in wine tasting really stems from a singular event. It was Thanksgiving in 2007 or so, and the holidays are always a time when my family keeps the wine flowing. One bottle in the mix was a 2005 Turning Leaf Pinot Noir, and it stood out like a sore thumb… but a good sore thumb… a really good sore thumb! That bottle of Pinot Noir was a cheap, $6-7 bottle (in Ohio), and it really made me say, for the first time, “Woah, this is really good!” Years after first trying it, it’s taste is still pretty distinct in my mind – it had strong strawberry notes and a buttery kind of feel/flavor. And now I can’t find it anywhere. By the way, Christmas is coming up in a couple months, in case your sleuth skills are better than mine. Just sayin’.

Back to the real focus of this post… It’s really interesting considering how broad the wine “bouquet” can be. Not only do growing conditions affect the flavor, so do the storage methods. Stainless steel often gives wines a more crisp taste, which can be complementary for light, fruity wines. On the other hand, red wines stored in oak sometimes enhance wines with lovely vanilla notes.

The list below is of notes I have either used or heard others use to describe wine characteristics:

anise
apple
asparagus (as a joke, from the movie “Sideways”)
banana
berry
blackberry
blueberry
butter
butterscotch
cat piss (seriously, I’ve heard this one!)
cedar
cherry
chocolate
coffee
cola
copper
floral
fruit punch
grapefruit
grass (freshly cut, of course)
hay
honey suckle
iron
jam
lemon zest
licorice
melon
metal
minerals
nails
oak
orange blossom
orange zest
peach
pear
pepper
pineapple
plum
raisin
raspberry
rose
smoke
steel
straw
strawberry
tannin
toast
tobacco
vanilla
watermelon
zoo (the first Gewürztraminer I ever had tasted like the smell of a zoo… yuck!)

As for an actual wine wheel, feel free to print/check this one out:

Wine wheel courtesy of:
Public Domain Pictures

This is one of those days I say a thankful prayer for. Alongside a huge group of giddy residents, I chased the retired space shuttle Endeavour as it was being transported from the Los Angeles International Airport to its new home at the California Science Center. The move is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. No doubt, more space vehicles will be retired one day, but there will never again be another space shuttle moved through the streets of L.A. Here are some photos (and a video) I took today:

 

Retired Space Shuttle Endeavour on the last leg of its new home in Los Angeles at the California Science Center.

 

Space Shuttle Endeavour Name Badge

Closeup of the Endeavour cockpit area and entrance hatch

 

Space Shuttle Endeavour’s three main engines and two Orbital Maneuvering System pods.

 

L.A. Mayor Antonio Villiagarosa welcoming Endeavour in front of the California Science Center – Oct. 14, 2012

 

Young girl wears a Space Shuttle inflatable hat behind Endeavour

Walking behind Endeavour and loving the inflatable space shuttle hat!

 

 

Luke Wilson must be a fan of the Space Shuttle, too.

All this talk about the space shuttle Endeavour coming to L.A. is pretty exciting. Like a ton of kids, I had dreams of piloting a mission to the moon or beyond, or even just floating around on the space station in an 18,000 MPH orbit.

These days, the constant coverage of the shuttle piggybacked atop a modified 747 Jumbo Jet has got me wracking my brain, trying to figure out if I might be able to look to the skies and see it chug along. But timetables keep changing, and the L.A. arrival of Endeavour has been delayed yet again because fog is expected in……San Francisco. Dang you, San Fran! The shuttle is currently about 100 miles NE, at Edwards Air Force Base. So, sensibly, the shuttle will be ferried nearly 400 miles NW tomorrow to San Francisco, then nearly 400 more miles south to Los Angeles. Oh yeah, and there’s the fact that this was all originally planned for a Thursday. A Thursday! In the middle of the day! Now it’s changed to a Friday. In the middle of the day! I sent a Twitter message to NASA, pointing out that the unemployment rate here is high, but it’s not THAT high. People here work, especially in the middle of the day!

Anyhow, at the very least, I feel extremely honored and blessed to have seen the space shuttle “Discovery” launch back in 2008. I won a Blue Man Group sweepstakes trip to Orlando that I could never recall entering… but after verifying it was legit and knowing that you could see a shuttle liftoff from the other side of Florida, I looked up the space shuttle launch calendar and specifically scheduled the trip around one of those dates.

From 60 miles away, the shuttle was like a fireball rising in the sky. It was so cool, even despite the distance. Eventually, the smoke trail stopped, and the shuttle was a small, white dot flying on a higher and higher arc. Eventually, like watching a jet crossing the sky, the shuttle got smaller and smaller until it just disappeared. You can see most of that in the video I shot below.

The whole experience was rather simple, but it really left a lasting impression. Although there’s so much negativity out there in the world, it can sure be refreshing and intriguing to consider human ingenuity and the good we’re capable of.
 

 
 
UPDATE! 9/21/12
Okay, so I take some of what I said back. As it turns out, I was incredibly blessed (yet again) and had a bunch of cards fall into place. It’s really rare for me to work in Hollywood, but today I ended up doing just that. Additionally, the Endeavour was originally scheduled to land in Los Angeles yesterday/Thursday but, due to weather, that got pushed to today. Jackpot! That meant I was in Hollywood while the space shuttle was strutting around town.

It was the hovering helicopters and people on all kinds of high-rise rooftops that tipped me off that I needed to be scanning the skies. While driving on La Brea, south of Santa Monica Blvd., I spotted the shuttle on its carrier in the haze. “Are you freakin’ kidding me? That’s all I’m gonna get?” I thought to myself. Turning down a side street to try to catch another look, I got cut off by two garbage trucks and decided to continue on to the next work destination.

The rooftop there was filled with people, and all the people pointing made it easy to keep track of the shuttle’s approximate location. So there I just stood in the parking lot. Endeavour, the 747 it was mounted on, and two military chase jets made one pass and then did so again after a couple minutes.

I wish I would have been sharing that moment with someone, anyone, because it was so astonishing and unreal. I could feel the adrenaline jolting through my body, and profanities were spilling out of my mouth. I didn’t know a moment like this could cause me to be mistaken for a pirate.

Endeavour on its Final Mission

Before you cast your vote this November, please try to see through the rhetoric just a little bit. There is a lot of talk about job creation, one way or another, coming from both sides of the aisle. It’s important to consider this: the government “creating jobs” is akin to an accounting trick.

The textbook example demonstrating the job creation fallacy is that of the baker. Suppose someone throws a brick through the front window of a small bakery. “Poor baker!” you might say, while someone trying to think outside the box says “The economy is really going to benefit from this!” After all, the baker has to pay someone to fix the window. As more windows are broken and more business comes in for the glass shop, more money changes hands. With this increased business, the glass shop buys new trucks and opens up new retail locations and warehouses. The shop also buys more supplies and hires more workers, who go out and spend their money on other goods and services. But this all comes at the expense of the shop owners with the broken windows. While someone is making money, someone is losing money.

When the government “creates jobs,” they are taking money away from people who would spend it somewhere anyway. Whether the bakery shop owner spends his money dining out, or at department store, or on investments, money continues to change hands. Sure, the broken glass might visibly give more people work, but that’s at the sake of other industries that would benefit from the bakery shop owner having the freedom to choose what he or she wants to spend money on.

It’s one thing to collect taxes and use that money to pay for services we all use, like building roads and bridges and providing police and fire department services. These industries still need to be sensibly regulated, however. We all were to pay for Alaska’s famous “Bridge to Nowhere” project, and I firmly believe that, here is Los Angeles, the police department does NOT (and will likely NEVER) need a fleet of 19 helicopters.

While government officials tout what an economic boon to the economy some programs are/were, things usually aren’t as they seem. The “Cash for Clunkers” auto trade-in program in 2008 was no government success story. According to a University of Delaware study, the program cost taxpayers an estimated $1.4 billion overall. But it was a noble effort to get all those polluting vehicles off the road, right? Well, if you consider that the Cash for Clunkers/Car Allowance Rebate System bill was originally crafted by a Representative from Ohio (home of GM factories and other major auto parts manufacturing), and a Senate version of the bill was co-sponsored by a Michigan Congresswoman, the real intention of the bill seems to be more of a local stimulus program.

For another example of central planning and “job creation” gone wrong, consider Solyndra. If you read some background on the company, the design of its solar technology was unlike any other in the industry. Right off the bat, this can’t be a safe bet, right? After all, investing in a unique product sounds a bit like what investors would call “speculation.”

Well, as you probably heard in the news, after the government loaned Solyndra $527 million, the company had a hard time competing in the market and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Even if you don’t see an issue with the government taking in taxes to give people work, consider that the government actually has very little to spend. If the government keeps spending/investing in such great ideas, how has the deficit swollen to a number larger than all the money in circulation? You see, many of our political leaders are experts at nothing more than being politicians. That’s why lobbyists come knocking on their doors and manage to convince them that the petroleum industry “really needs continued subsidies,” as do the defense industry and farmers.

Speaking of farming, while small, family operations may be more sensitive to market fluctuations, corporate farming ventures (with stable finances) are reaping the rewards of government handouts. Are you familiar with Cargill – the multinational, multi-billion dollar food and agricultural producer? That corporation accepted a total of $17 million in subsidies between the years 1995 and 2011. Last year, Cargill’s net income was over $4 billion, yet the government continues to collect taxes and, you know, provide help to those corporations that need it most.

Another massive industry that government funds is defense. Of course, we need to maintain some level of military, but considering the U.S. recently finished up an eight-year tour of duty in Iraq, with none of those elusive WMDs ever to be found, what purpose did it serve? Well, for one, it was a great opportunity to pump money into the military-industrial complex that’s so well integrated into Washington politics. Conspiracy? It absolutely became one! Don’t worry, I’m not going to say “9/11 was a government cover-up” and blah, blah, blah. I don’t believe that and, if I did, there is no evidence to prove such a thing. What is certain, though, is that lots and lots of tax dollars were spent on military vehicles, aircraft, and ships (plus regular maintenance and replacement parts), fuel, clothing, armor, food, weapons, tools, field medical supplies, generators, and, of course, medical treatment for our injured (mentally and physically) soldiers for the rest of their lives.

If you’ve ever seen the movie “The Aviator,” you might remember how Howard Hughes was grilled by Senator Owen Brewster over allegations of war profiteering. That’s a phrase you don’t really hear anymore. These days, you have former CEOs become Vice Presidents, who then award half-a-billion dollar, no-bid contracts to the companies they ran. The “revolving door” between high-profile public service and corporate leadership positions is a problem and is well-documented. It’s that kind of conflict of interest that results in a hammer costing $436 and $640 for a toilet seat procured by the government.

As you can see, a lot of baggage comes along with government “job creation.” Though we are often fooled into thinking this money reshuffling is an investment for our future, what actually results is greater deficit spending. It’s important to note here that we never really operate with any kind of budget surplus. And a lot of the money that’s moved around and redistributed ends up in the hands of special interest groups and friends of the higher-ups in the public sector.

Next time you hear some mumblings from the government about creating jobs, consider the hidden economics and who the beneficiaries truly are.

 

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Further reading and cited sources:

John Stossel’s Broken Window Fallacy –

The Broken Window Fallacy- How hurricanes, war, taxes, welfare, green job subsidies, and stimulus don’t actually create jobs –

Wikipedia – “Parable of the broken window” –
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parable_of_the_broken_window

Burton Abrams and George Parsons – “Is CARS a Clunker?”
http://www.relooney.info/0_New_5687.pdf

Environmental Working Group – “Cargill Turkey Products – EWG Farm Subsidy Database”
farm.ewg.org/persondetail.php?custnumber=004497123

Cargill reports fourth-quarter and fiscal 2011 earnings
http://www.cargill.com/news/releases/2011/NA3047889.jsp

CNET – “Case study: A simple tool” –
http://news.cnet.com/2009-1009_3-5404307.html

Frédéric Bastiat

Henry Hazlitt