"The most significant threat to our national security is our debt," Admiral Michael Mullen, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, August 27, 2010

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Amateur sports with incredibly high overhead

Sometimes all one need do is listen and look at the facts.  First we listen to Mark Emmert, NCAA president, speak about amateur college sports:

·         NCAA President Mark Emmert stuck to his contention that amateurism is the core of college athletics, saying any effort to pay players would destroy a framework that has been in place for more than a century and cause many schools to either abandon sports or refuse to play other schools that do pay.

·         Emmert said college athletes themselves wouldn't want to play against other athletes who were getting paid.  "They want to know everyone is playing by the same rules," he said. "They want to know the other teams consist of student athletes just like them."

·         Emmert said one of the biggest reasons fans like college sports is that they believe the athletes are really students who play for a love of the sport and for their school and community

·         "It's one of the most fundamental principles of the NCAA and intercollegiate athletics," Emmert said. "They have always seen and assumed that intercollegiate athletics is about the notion that these are members of the student body. They're not hired employees conducting games for entertainment. They're not a random group of folks that just come together to play sports."
Now, for some facts:
·        Last year, Nick Saban, football coach at Alabama, took home $5,500,000.00 for coaching his “amateur” sports team
·        His buddy, Mack Brown, at Texas, got about the same
·       The fellow at Arkansas, who used to be at Wisconsin, got a cool $5,100,000.00
·        Urban Meyer at Ohio State - $4,600,000.00
·        Steve Spurrier at South Carolina - $3,300,000.00
·        Here’s one that may bring a tear to your eye:  Brady Hoke at Michigan - $4,100,000.00 for a 3 win; 5 loss record last year in the Big 10 or 12 or 14 or?  Four million bucks buys you three wins out of 8 conference games.  More than $1.3 million per win - half a million just for showing up
·        Here’s the real kicker – there are 70 “amateur” college football coaches making at least $1,000,000.00 a year
·       Take a look at the entire listing along with their staff salaries.  Go to:  http://www.usatoday.com/sports/college/salaries/
There is only one place; one conference; one small group of colleges and universities in America today engaging in “amateur” sports – it is the Ivy League consisting of Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Princeton, Penn and Yale.  They have this strange system – everyone applies to school as a student and is either accepted or rejected.  Oh, one other thing – no athletic scholarships – if you need financial aid, fine but you better have the smarts  and the aptitude to qualify.
When the fool or just plain obliviously deceptive Emmert spoke about schools abandoning sports or refusing to play against schools that pay their athletes (giggle – giggle), who did he have in mind?  We doubt these 3, 4 and 5 million dollar men will opt to stay home Saturday afternoon and forgo their paychecks, huh?
Who destroyed amateur sports in America?  The well paid coaches and their well paid staffs and the big money flowing from TV and Nike may be prime suspects along with others.   But we’ve seen this playbook and this gathering over and over again.  The play?  It’s just greed.  Plain, pure, simple and ever so predictable – greed.  It's a fundamental folks.  Greed always destroys those who engage it.
BTW, that same greed is why those products and services that fill up much of the televised airtime for these “amateur” sports events cost so much more in the store today.  Not only do you get to watch 3, 3 ½ hour football games – you get to pay for it if and when you buy the junk that is advertised over and over again interrupting and delaying the “amateur” game.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Aye or Nay on "saving the union"

We get a kick out of those who get terrified over the idea of change – it’s usually those who have embedded financial interests in not changing.  And there is no bigger group of such people than those who depend on government, one way or another, for their daily bread and their cushy jobs and their fat pensions and their well armed security details.

Gee whiz, you would almost begin to think like they do – without us, chaos.
As we look around it appears that people have this desire to be with others who look like themselves; who act like themselves; who share various levels of commonality in their morals; their values; their discipline; their charity; their character and their religion.
The melting pot mythology may have captured the imaginations of American politicians and propagandists (yes, we know, that’s redundant) but around the globe the looming developing nations are not based on propagandistic promises of mixing race, religion, culture and values – it’s the exact opposite.
Then again, in some places, the same people; the same culture; those with the same look, dress and behavior have survived for millennia.  Such is the way of the Scots.  Those funny sounding folk where the men wear skirts and so do the women.  These are the people who brought the world two** of the greatest gifts from any culture – golf and that wonderful smoky beverage – single malt whisky.
We are going to ignore golf because it is a challenge unlike most others – it appeals to millions even though only a chosen few can bring about the timely collision of a quickly swung club and a tiny ball resting nicely on mother earth with the purpose of propelling the ball a certain distance and a certain direction to land in a certain spot on a well manicured piece of earth with the intent now of slowly moving a different club to make contact with the resting ball so that it falls into a tiny hole about 3 times the size of the ball.  Sometimes, many times, it is possible to move the ball great distances in just one, or two, or three strokes and take as many or more strokes to move it very short distances into the tiny hole.  The Scots call this last activity – putting.
The Scots used to play this “game” on land near the oceans and seas and bays that surround their beautiful country.  Why did they choose these lands?  Because these lands – near the sea; near the salt water; had no productive growing purpose – you couldn’t farm them.   Nothing would grow on them but nature’s most hardy plants which were not tasty, or nutritional.  But like the very people who wandered over these links where land met sea; they were survivors – they were tough – they stuck together.
But let’s talk about single malt – quick lesson.  Making any form of booze is pretty simple.  You need to ferment something containing sugar – which means most things that grow.  Then you need to distill (separate) the alcohol based result of fermentation from the glop that was fermented and then, you can drink it – in the American Appalachian mountains this beverage is known as “white lighting.”   If you are a bit more patient and have the ability to plan ahead; fortunately the Scots do, you can age the product.  Aging is best done in barrels – wooden barrels – not plastic and the makeup of the barrel (wood source) as well as treatment of the wood (burning, prior contents) when combined with a patient aging process produces better tasting and no longer white, booze.  Single malt must be the product of the fermentation of just one grain – barley.  And those barrels must be made from oak and the aging period – minimum of three years.
Closing comment – we support Scottish independence for the same reason we support anyone’s or any peoples independence – we believe in people, not sheeple.  God love the Scots for their survivability – as to the Brits with their fear campaign – same old, same old.  Remember you wonderful people of Scotland – darn near everyone else has kicked the Brits out and life goes on.
Will fear win out, again?  We don’t know.  Just because fear rules America does not mean it will prevail in Scotland or any other place where the gathering of people with commonality of one or several things leads to a rugged independence of belief in self and community.  Regardless, TheFundamentals thanks you Scottish people for these two wonderful gifts but more we thank you for your spunk, your toughness and your God fearing independence.
** BTW, Scots have done much, much more.  The telephone came from a Scot as did penicillin and the flush toilet!   If you seek a tasty single malt, try Scapa, aged 16 years.


Monday, September 15, 2014

Long, Long Wars

Most of us have heard something about the “crusades” if only the references to Richard the Lionheart's extended absence off fighting the 3rd crusade which gave rise to the tyrannical rule of his brother, John, which brought us almost everyone’s early superhero – Robin Hood. 

The key phrase in the previous paragraph is “off fighting the 3rd crusade…”
Why?  The last time Christianity in the form of the kings, queens and popes of Europe decided they had had enough of the prophet’s pilgrims plundering and pillaging of the Holy land and all in between the Holy land and their neighborhoods was over 1000 years ago.  Here is a rough timeline and description of the several crusades and their objectives/results:
1st – (1096 – 1099) the beginning crusade was announced by Pope Urban II in response to an appeal from the Byzantine Emperor to get rid of the Sunni Muslims who controlled much of Turkey as well as to recapture the Holy Lands (HL) and control Jerusalem.  They had some successes but their accomplishments were not long lived leading to..
2nd – (1145 – 1149) started by Pope Eugene III and led by kings of France and Germany.  They were unsuccessful in the HL but did kick the Moors out of Lisbon, leading to the…
3rd – as noted Richard led it with some assistance from Holy Roman Emperor Barbarossa and Austria’s Leopold against the Muslim leader Saladin.  They had some success but failed to retake Jerusalem which led to….
4th – (1202 – 1204) did not get much done other than to finalize the break between Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox Christians
5th thru 9th – (1217 – 1272) not good results for the Christians setting the stage for the current situation or if one is secure in their acceptance of the prophet – Allahu Akbar
There are many good books and endless history telling available at your library or on the World Wide Web (unless you live in most of the Muslim lands) to help you grasp the history of this centuries old conflict.   Suffice it to say – it’s been a long, long war.
So, what is the point of this extraordinarily abbreviated summation of the crusades?  Two things.  Call it what you will – crusades, war on terror, democratization, bringing justice, women’s rights, etc. – the western powers have no lasting track record of success in defeating the prophets horde much less converting them or modernizing them.  And, any such attempts to do so will occupy more centuries – not years or decades as promised and will bankrupt even the most financially secure of the defenders of freedom and our way of life, etc.  In other words, OBLaden knew exactly of what he spoke when he said all his gang needed to do was rile up the infidels and let them go about destroying themselves.
Which leads us to this conclusion:
  • Contain them in their oil rich lands, if possible, and
  • Examine their toe/foot/leg holds in our own neighborhoods
Contain means – ally with those Islamists who will place their self preservation ahead of the new caliphate (or at least stop destroying them as we have been doing) and any or all of those non Islamists bordering the Muslim lands who are not seeking conversion but are facing it due to geographical proximity (BTW - that's a strategy.)
Examine our own policies regarding their entry into our lands.  This, of course, is highly politically incorrect which speaks volumes about our inherent weakness – the idea that we can ignore an intolerant societal/cultural/commercial and political movement and call it a “religion” is just plain nuts.  They tell us to convert or die – we might wish to consider if that “religious belief” is a bit inconsistent with our open, independent, free society or what remains of it today.  The US constitution, what little is left of it that is, prohibits any form of established religion or any impediments to anyone’s religion.  Don’t need to be an east coast lawyer to figure out that a religion that does not tolerate other religions is a no-no.
Do you ever get the idea that we go out of our way to make everything as complicated as possible and that in so doing all we are really doing is dancing to the tune of someone who benefits from the complexity?


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

School choice - change the Democrats need to learn

Crazy question right – even suggesting that a Democrat will stop buying votes of the teachers at the expense of American children, particularly urban and poor kids?

Or you could turn it around.  When will the voters who are the parents and guardians of urban and poor kids stop selling their votes to Democrats for peanuts and promises while their kids flounder in crap schools and the fancy pants Democrat politicians they elect send their kids to good schools?
Well get yourself informed about these two outfits:
http://www.federationforchildren.org/    American Federation for Children
http://allianceforschoolchoice.org/   Alliance for School Choice
They support the novel idea that kids getting good educations is vastly more important that teachers getting union contracts with all sorts of teacher benefits and protections.  No, Virginia, teachers unions don’t exist to improve kids educations.
There is one organized group in America that places the children of their voters in poor learning environments and refuses – completely and totally refuses to let parents decide where their kids can go to school with the public monies provided by the parents and their neighbors.  It is the Democrat Party and here is their leader, who sends his kids to private schools:

Well Mom and Dad – did you get the school “change” you need? 
The Democrat party is a gathering of unprincipled politicians, bureaucrats and public employee unionized hacks and thugs who could care less about the plight of urban and poor children.  Why the African American voters, by a nine to one margin, support this group of corrupt, self focused, power hungry idiots is beyond this essayist’s comprehension but before you go, do this one thing, “Ask either of these (see below) well-fed (sweating heavily) multimillionaires who has never created one private, wealth creation based job – will you support giving me education choice just as you support giving me health care choice?”

ps:  tell Bubba the intern can wait - our kids need school choice NOW!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Judge Rhodes, Detroit, and the impact on all of us

Judge Rhodes is a federal bankruptcy judge – appointed to that position for life – no responsibility to the people – that is the issue raised by Thomas Jefferson in his so-called “tree of liberty” letter.

Judge Rhodes is the man, the one and only man, in America who will rule on the Detroit bankruptcy which means who gets what, when and what sort of plan is set for the future.  Is that a big task?  You bet.  But isn’t that what is done in every bankruptcy situation?  You bet.  So why are you raising the question about one man ruling about everything in this situation?
Because his and our situation in this Detroit bankruptcy case affects all Americans – not just a limited place and a limited number of people – it will affect all of us for a long, long time to come.
We ask that you read, if you have not previously, this statement from the bond insurers who cut a deal with Detroit before it entered bankruptcy, loaning them funds with a security interest in future casino revenues – please go to:  http://www.mlive.com/news/detroit/index.ssf/2014/07/fight_over_detroits_casino_rev.html#incart_related_stories
The bond insurer made this loan to make money – but they went one key step further – they secured their loan with future revenues which makes them a secured creditor; not one of many unsecured creditors.  Who are those many unsecured creditors?  Past and current city of Detroit employees.  In bankruptcy, those folk get to stand in line and divvy up what is left over after the secured creditors are paid – that is the normal standard of settlement in a bankruptcy action.  But not this time.  The employees and the pensioners are getting most everything they were previously getting and the bond insurer is getting pennies – literally pennies.  Put it another way – the bankruptcy proposal turns the legal concept of secured creditor preference upside down.

So what you say – better to pay the pensioners instead of a nasty old corporation, huh?  Sure if you are a politician, particularly a democrat politician who makes your bones (blog speak for buying votes) with other people’s money.  But what about a contract?  What about future municipalities who will need a bond insurer to improve the likelihood that investors will buy their bond issues?  What about the added cost to all of us if those insurers raise their rates?  The only difference between raising our taxes and raising the cost of borrowing for municipal debt is the theory that in a republic the people get to vote – to decide – to rule.  Here the judge raises the costs to the people; the people get to say nothing.
And so it is going around our country.   In Illinois the people petition to vote on term limits.    A few judges say – nope, can’t.  In other locations taxpayers try to stop public employee unions from emptying the public treasure – judges say – nope, can’t.  Lifetime judges ruling on public fiscal and financial matters is a direct violation of the concept of a republic – the people rule.  And, in many of the cases that judges are now ruling on they sit in a state of conflict of interest – they are ruling on issues that either directly or indirectly affect their pocket book or their standing among others whose pocketbooks are being affected.
This is not the rule of law – it is that old fashioned, always present rule of men – the men in power make the rules, enforce the rules, benefit by the rules.
That is no republic folks.  And that is exactly what Jefferson feared and wrote about in his letter.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Equity - and Tom's concern

The word “equity” has several meanings – just part of the joy of the English language.

We all know what  equity in our homes means – today it means less than it did before Washington politicians and the nation bank – the fed, decided to devalue all of our home values by spreading what we had invested over the larger voting public.
We also know that equity can mean fairness – level playing field, where the rules are applied uniformly and consistently.  Which bring us to Detroit – America’s very own bankrupt refugee camp.
In the beginning, in 1776, those who chose to rebel against the king who made and enforced the laws, became traitors.  Then, as today, traitors can be killed by the in-place government.  The rebels had this idea that a nation would be better ruled by law than men.  Men are weak.  Men are greedy.  Men like to lord it over other men.  That seems to be nature’s way.  These rebels decided to make laws that say – if you do those bad things – are weak; are greedy – lord it over others – hurt others – steal from them – defraud them – you will be held to account.  This was not the established way – not nature’s way – most certainly not the way of the king and his court and his bureaucrats and his armies.
The rebels had an answer for this weakness of men – set up courts and judges and take the judges out of the “political process.”  That way the rule of law would prevail over the antics of men; mostly the antics of government men.
Which brings us to Detroit.
Detroit is America’s very own bankrupt refugee camp – not its only one but it is the only one presently under the complete control of a bankruptcy court and that means one person – a federal bankruptcy judge (kind of like a king.)  One person gets to say – you get this; you get that; you lose this; you lose that.  And then there is the law which supposedly tells the judge – as you decide who gets what, you must be “fair and equitable” – yep, there is that word again – equity.
What is the judge about to do?  We shall soon know but we already know this – the proposed distribution of assets – both now and in the future looks as if it had been prepared by the leaders of the Democrat party running for election and buying votes – big payoffs to the unions – peanuts to the banks, the  lenders, the bondholders.  Equity?  Only in the minds of Democrats.  Which is to say, “politicians, bureaucrats, their unions and their union leaders.”   In other words, the exact same group that ran a thriving town into the ground – into bankruptcy court – may be able to get the judge to rule that the rest of us should pay so that those responsible are not held to be responsible.  We’ll see.
Back to the rebels – when they set up their new government of laws to seek equity they said – you judges can serve for lifetime – you don’t need to run for election and reelection because then you will be above mere men who lie, cheat and steal and you will not be tempted to be like them (giggle – giggle.)
On Wednesday, we published an essay entitled – Tree of Liberty.  Wasn’t really an essay, it was Thomas Jefferson’s letter to William Smith and it was written about a concern Tom had about the new constitution that was being drafted back home – Tom was in Paris serving as the new nations ambassador to the French who had just helped the rebels beat off George III and his bureaucrats as well as his vicious army.  What was Tom concerned about in that letter?
He didn’t think judges should be appointed for life.  Why?  Well, after all, they are just men.  Weak as all.  Perhaps no part of this new government has failed the people as consistently and as predictably as the judiciary.    Tom got it right – a long time ago.  Please read the letter – just scroll down to Wednesday's post.

Also, if you are interested in hearing directly from a party to the Detroit bankruptcy action that is not receiving equity, please go to:  http://www.freep.com/article/20140903/OPINION05/309030029/Detroit-bankruptcy-pension-swaps?odyssey=obinsite

This matter of equity is rapidly becoming a matter of survival for our republic after only 225 years of existence.  It is way too important to be decided by just one man.  Deficits and debts are created by undisciplined men seeking power, prestige and profit at the expense of our nation.  They buy votes from uninformed citizens while the judges sit idly by.  This system is not working.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Tree of Liberty Letter

- Thomas Jefferson to William Stephens Smith, Paris, 13 Nov. 1787 
"I do not know whether it is to yourself or Mr. Adams I am to give my thanks for the copy of the new constitution. I beg leave through you to place them where due. It will be yet three weeks before I shall receive them from America. There are very good articles in it: and very bad. I do not know which preponderate. What we have lately read in the history of Holland, in the chapter on the Stadtholder, would have sufficed to set me against a Chief magistrate eligible for a long duration, if I had ever been disposed towards one: and what we have always read of the elections of Polish kings should have forever excluded the idea of one continuable for life. Wonderful is the effect of impudent and persevering lying. The British ministry have so long hired their gazetteers to repeat and model into every form lies about our being in anarchy, that the world has at length believed them, the English nation has believed them, the ministers themselves have come to believe them, and what is more wonderful, we have believed them ourselves. Yet where does this anarchy exist? Where did it ever exist, except in the single instance of Massachusets? And can history produce an instance of a rebellion so honourably conducted? I say nothing of it's motives. They were founded in ignorance, not wickedness. God forbid we should ever be 20. years without such a rebellion. The people can not be all, and always, well informed. The part which is wrong will be discontented in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions it is a lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty. We have had 13. states independant 11. years. There has been one rebellion. That comes to one rebellion in a century and a half for each state. What country ever existed a century and a half without a rebellion? And what country can preserve it's liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is it's natural manure. Our Convention has been too much impressed by the insurrection of Massachusets: and in the spur of the moment they are setting up a kite to keep the hen yard in order. I hope in god this article will be rectified before the new constitution is accepted."  

ps:  (note from TheFundamentals)  the Convention failed to rectify Tom’s concern.  Can you determine the "concern" after reading this letter?  More about Tom's "concern" on Friday.


Monday, September 1, 2014

Labor Day - remembering the real wage killer

There is a lot of chit-chat going around about raising the minimum wage and equal pay and those who feed their greed at the expense of regular, working folk.  But we venture to say that not one of those politicians or bureaucrats who fill the airwaves today with their blather about good intentions will bring focus to this one certain wage killer - INFLATION.  Here is the CPI chart for the last 50 years.  What does it say?  Well in the lower left it tells us that what cost about $30.00 in 1960 costs about $240.00 today.  An unbelievable increase in what it costs us in America to live of EIGHT FOLD - EIGHT TIMES AS MUCH TODAY AS 50 YEARS AGO.

How can this happen you ask?  Well us regular folk cannot create this situation - you see we must do something, make something, build something, grow something, transport something - actually do something in order to earn cash.  But the government coupled with the Fed coupled with its vast bureaucracy can get cash without doing something and then use it to buy votes and maintain power while taking very good care of themselves.  Let's see if those politicians and bureaucrats and smarty pants fellows and gals on the Federal Reserve Board talk about inflation today.