Dr. Tiller, RIP

I am pro-choice. I believe that a woman has the right to control her pregnancy. It is her body, and she is carrying and nourishing the fetus inside her. If it becomes impossible to carry it to full term; if she is abandoned by her family, her friends, and has no possibility of being able to care for a child; if it will tear her apart to birth this child; if the child has a defect such that it will never experience a good quality of life – these are reasons not to carry the child to term. It is a personal decision, and it is one I support in full.

George Tiller, M.D. provided late term abortions. He was one of a handful of doctors that would. Why would someone get a late term abortion? What if, at 21 weeks, you found out your fetus had a severe birth defect that would cause it to be constantly in pain and live only a few years?  Dr. Tiller understood that sometimes you have to make hard decisions, and that those decisions should not be made harder by not being able to find quality care. He did not encourage people to get abortions. He only performed them when the woman had made the very difficult decision to have one. He provided quality care with respect.

Abortion is legal in the United States. Whether you agree with it or not, it is a legally available procedure. Murdering doctors for providing a legally available procedure is not heroic. It’s murder. I agree with President Obama that we should be working towards the goal of lessening the need for abortions – sex education, providing birth control, and being open and frank when discussing pregnancy. Regardless, I still believe that women should have the option to end their pregnancy if they feel it is necessary. Dr. Tiller thought so, too. I hope that his service to the respect and independence of women helps his soul rest easy.

Well DUH, or, Why Bad Mortagages Happened

This video shows the story of Jeff Gray, a man who is going to get kicked out of his home. It’s a nice home, not a McMansion, not a hole in the wall. He originally bought it for $200k. When he got laid off and his wife lost her job and had to take a “significant pay cut”, they refinanced their home.

And got $347,000.

Yeah. You read that right. The mortgage company swooped in, waved their magic wand and said they were making $13k a month (when they were actually making $9k a year), and handed them $347,000. They were supposed to be paying $2500/month from day one, and never made one payment. Well, duh!  It would have been impossible for them to make payments like that.  But whoever created that mortgage for them didn’t care. They just wanted to make big numbers in their book, and the guy didn’t know what he was signing. He just knew if he signed it, they would give him lots of money. In the video, it’s obvious he has no idea what happened to him.

Here’s my conundrum: I’ve been smart with my finances since I got out of college.  (Before then I was a complete idiot, and needed help fixing the disaster that resulted from that.) I paid my debts and loans on time, and they didn’t get reduced for any reason other than me handing someone a check. I still haven’t bought a home because I haven’t felt that buying a home without a down payment is a good idea. I pay my rent every month on time, and have done so for over a decade.

So, how should I feel about Mr. Gray, who has had a free ride for the last 4 years? Should I feel like JP Morgan, who bought this toxic mortgage from some no-name mortgage company that no longer exists, should cut him a deal? If so, what kind of deal? Should his repayments be stretched over a longer period, or should his repayment just be cut to something manageable over 30 years? And honestly, what kind of payments is this guy going to be able to make on $9,000 a year with two kids, anyway? If I do the numbers right, that family’s been living on roughly a $50k a year budget for the last few years – there’s no way they’re going to be able to live on 1/5 of that, and make mortgage payments.

Should I say, “Cut the guy a deal, no one should lose their home”? Or should I say, “you were an idiot, Mr. Gray, suck it up, your life is ruined”?

I guess it comes down to compassion, and tolerance for ignorance (in this case, financial ignorance). And I’m finding the older I get, the less I have of both.

VOTE – And DO NOT accept NO for an answer

I voted this morning. I guess I got lucky, I showed up at 8:45 and there was 1 person in line ahead of me.

They asked me if I wanted to vote on paper or electronically. I couldn’t say paper fast enough. Hell, I work in computers and there was no way I was voting electronically. No paper trail? Oh hell no. I was slightly disturbed that they did not ask for any ID, but they did have my name on the voter roll, and I did have to match my signature that was on the slip, so it’s not like someone under one name could have voted multiple times – but still, someone could vote under another person’s name, by accident or no.

Edit: A bit of amusement: An older gentlemen saw my hair and said, “Oh, so you’re campaigning for the blue states?” I smiled and replied, “Nope – the purple ones!”

If you have voting problems in any part of the USA – if you’ve registered and they tell you that you can’t vote for any reason, such as that you moved too recently, or your house is listed as foreclosed, or your place burned down last week, or you’re not in the system, or whatever other BS reason they come up with – don’t give up.

If you have any any problems voting call:
The CNN Voter Hotline (877) 462-6608 (877-GO-CNN-08) – they are set up with InfoVoter Technologies to get help with any voter problems.
or The Obama campaign: (877) 874-6226 (877-US-4-OBAMA)
or The McCain campaign: (866) 976-8683 (866-976-VOTE)

Good night, and good luck.

Economic Crisis – understanding why the bailout was proposed

(reposted from a comment I made in filkertom’s LJ)

This may be useful for you:
http://seekingalpha.com/article/97427-the-dummy-s-guide-to-the-u-s-financial-crisis

A lot of what is happening right now has to do with money markets and short-term liquidity, which is drying up. When people hear “the banks can’t lend money”, they just assume it’s John Doe borrowing money to buy a house or a car or something like that. Not so.

Here’s an example:

Bob’s Cleaning Service (BCS) employs thousands of people. Every day, BCS goes and cleans some offices, and people write them a check in order to pay for their services. Now, that money doesn’t instantly appear in the BCS account – it has to go through the system and will be in the account in a day or two. So BCS has to make payroll on Friday, and they’re $900k short, since they’re waiting for things to clear through the system. So they go to the bank and say, “Hey, we need $900k for two days, at the end of two days we’ll give you back $900k plus $1k for a lending fee.” The bank says sure, passes the money over to BCS, payroll gets paid, and two days later BCS pays the money back, plus a small lending fee.

Now, the problem is that people are terrified of the market’s stability, and are pulling their money out of the money market – and here’s where I’m a little fuzzy on the concept, because it has something to do with the money markets, which involve banks and bonds and such, so you really need a better economist to explain that part. But, if there’s no money in the money market, it means the bank doesn’t have money to loan, because people have removed it. If the bank can’t loan BCS $900k on a short-term basis, BCS can’t make payroll (or pay for supplies or gas for their trucks or pay for their operating costs, etc.). If BCS can’t do this for even one day, things start to go very badly. Payroll gets delayed, the cleaners can’t get to the sites, they don’t have the equipment they need, etc. etc. In just a few short days BCS can lose a whole lot of revenue because of delays and breakdowns in their workflow.

And this is the real crisis – not “John Doe can’t borrow money for his house or put money on his credit card for a vacation to Bermuda or a bunch of stuff he doesn’t need.” It’s the day to day businesses coming to a screeching halt because they don’t have the money moving through the system like they used to – people don’t get paid, people don’t get the services or goods they’ve paid for, and it snowballs until it all comes to a slow, grinding halt.

This is why people are screaming for the bailout.

Now, it’s not that I am endorsing the bailout. I think that 3-page piece of crap that Bernanke handed to congress about “Give me all the money and the power or we all die” wasn’t worth the paper it was printed on. It should have been rejected outright and Congress should have started over, instead of trying to take the piece of crap and make it smell nice. But something has to keep the markets moving or things will go very badly very quickly.

This isn’t about consuming and more more more. It’s about the pace of our society and the speed of business, and how quickly it can be brought to its knees. Objects at rest tend to stay at rest, and if we let the economy stop, it’s going to be very hard to get it moving again.

(Sorry for the long post. It’s just I’ve been trying to follow this crisis closely and I have a lot to yammer about.)

Uh… homeland mission?

[info]oddball79 made me aware of this:

http://www.armytimes.com/news/2008/09/army_homeland_090708w/
The 3rd Infantry Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team has spent 35 of the last 60 months in Iraq patrolling in full battle rattle, helping restore essential services and escorting supply convoys.

Now they’re training for the same mission — with a twist — at home.

Beginning Oct. 1 for 12 months, the 1st BCT will be under the day-to-day control of U.S. Army North, the Army service component of Northern Command, as an on-call federal response force for natural or manmade emergencies and disasters, including terrorist attacks.

It is not the first time an active-duty unit has been tapped to help at home. In August 2005, for example, when Hurricane Katrina unleashed hell in Mississippi and Louisiana, several active-duty units were pulled from various posts and mobilized to those areas.

But this new mission marks the first time an active unit has been given a dedicated assignment to NorthCom, a joint command established in 2002 to provide command and control for federal homeland defense efforts and coordinate defense support of civil authorities.

So… we have, for the first time, military patrols assigned to North America?

Don’t look for any extra time off, though. The at-home mission does not take the place of scheduled combat-zone deployments and will take place during the so-called dwell time a unit gets to reset and regenerate after a deployment.

So much for resetting and regenerating.

They may be called upon to help with civil unrest and crowd control or to deal with potentially horrific scenarios such as massive poisoning and chaos in response to a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or high-yield explosive, or CBRNE, attack.
Does it make anyone else nervous that they’re starting this a month before elections? ‘Cause I am.

Last Chance to speak out against Bush’s new reproductive rights rule

“The Bush administration has issued a rule that would limit the rights of patients to receive complete and accurate reproductive health information when they visit a health care provider. It’s more of the Bush administration’s bad medicine, and this is our last chance to stop it.

This new rule could allow individual health care providers to redefine abortion to include the most common forms of birth control — and then refuse to provide these basic services. A woman’s ability to manage her own health care is at risk of being compromised by politics and ideology. We have until September 25 at midnight to voice our opposition.”

http://www.ppaction.org/campaign/frcp08_adv1

I wouldn’t do that if I were you…

Thinking about voting for McCain?

http://blog.thehill.com/2008/09/16/mccain-secretly-plans-new-tax-on-middle-class

McCain wants to add the employer’s cost [of health insurance] — an additional $8,824 [on average] — to that middle class family’s income, then tax it. The hit to the average family is 15 percent of the McCain-added income — $1,323 more in income taxes.

Here’s the way the New York Times put it in an April 30 story, in which there was only straight talk: “Mr. McCain’s health care plan would shift the emphasis from insurance provided by employers to insurance bought by individuals.” Since 2000, the percentage of employers offering health insurance has declined from 69 percent to 60 percent.

Could you get health insurance on your own? Are you overweight? Diabetic? A smoker? Ever been admitted to the hospital for anything? Depression? High blood pressure? Or something really expensive – cancer, MS, HIV? Yeah, good luck.

If you’re hoping that voting for McCain means that the government will promote a sane health care policy, please read the comparison of the actual proposed policies.