May 4, 2010

What's Really Important

Category: Current Events — Cranky @

As I look into the future, I see a great many problems. I see the collapse of the euro, a currency so young it can’t even vote yet. I see armed conflict with Iran. I see hyperinflation destroying vast amounts of wealth denominated in U.S. currency. I see China moving from an economic powerhouse to an expansionist military concern.

All of these things are important, of course. The next five years will redraw the political and economic map of the world. However, we can’t lose sight of what’s really important.

I need access to shrimp at all times for the forseeable future.

I can’t stress this enough. When times are tough, if the government wants to keep the populace from arming themselves they make certain things readily available. For the most part, that’s booze. As long as it flows relatively freely, booze tends to keep the revolution at bay. If they’d just legalize pot they could calm things even further. Revolutions, if they start at all, would end at the nearest convenience store, brought to an end compliments of Old Dutch potato chips.

For me, it’s shrimp. That’s a problem for the government. They can make booze in a bathtub, but shrimp pretty much only grow in the ocean, and I’m well inland. I have to be able to get it from the supermarket, and God help the government if I can’t. With currencies collapsing in the future, who will bring those precious little beauties all the way from the ocean to my neighbourhood? Somebody has to.

Add to this the fact that the fishing grounds of the largest seafood producer in the U.S.’s lower 48 are slowly being covered by Atkins-unfriendly crude oil, and my government had better start making contingency plans. When things go south, if I’m shrimpless there will be civil disobedience. It’s prawns or die, fellows.


June 25, 2009

"It's Not Your Fault, But Pay Up Anyway."

Category: Current Events — Cranky @

This week a passenger from US Airways Flight 1549 has gone public with her claim that the airline should be paying for family therapy sessions while they deal with the trauma created by the event.

For those who aren’t familiar with the event, Flight 1549 landed in the Hudson river after a flock of birds disabled the engines. The captain was hailed as a hero, the plane was in perfect working order, and everybody did their jobs correctly. The airline paid for the recovery and return of whatever cargo could be found, and they paid each passenger $5000 after the fact.

“I expect my family to be taken care of in the very best way possible, and I don’t feel like that’s happening when you’re balking at my claims to a therapist and you are setting limits on that.” – Tess Sosa

Well, she can expect it all she wants. She just shouldn’t get it.

This woman sees a few thousand dollars in therapy bills that the airline should cover, even though they are in no way liable for the event. What she doesn’t see is the floodgates that would open if such a claim were honoured. Imagine the fraud that would instantly appear throughout the frivolous lawsuit capital of the world – the U.S.A. – if the airline actually paid.

In fact, that precedent would cause problems for all sorts of industries, transportation or otherwise. Caught in an elevator in an office tower, and personally know a therapist? Well, hot damn! Now you need therapy for claustrophobia, and for a 50/50 split you don’t even have to attend. The building owner or the elevator maintenance contractor will cough up. Did that ride at Disneyland creak more than expected? Now you’re afraid of attractions, but for a few thousand you might be able to overcome it.

People already cheat their way through physical injury claims. Imagine what a field day people would have if the “injury” was mental, and thus invisible.

I’m not saying the trauma isn’t real, or that the family doesn’t need therapy. I’m saying that if the company isn’t liable in this case it’s far better for everybody if they don’t cave.


February 20, 2009

Can It Really Be This Bad?

Category: Current Events — Cranky @

Anybody who watches the news has heard about the woman who was mauled by her friend’s pet chimpanzee. It’s a dreadful incident. If I understand the story correctly, the chimp escaped its cage, and the owner called her friend to help round him up. The scene ends with a vicious attack, a call to 911, and the booking of a serious team of reconstructive surgeons. Last night I turned on CNN, and heard a reporter talk up an upcoming segment. “Could this attack have been prevented?”

What kind of a question is that? Of course it could have been prevented. Here’s the magic rule: Don’t keep 200 pound wild chimpanzees as pets, and they won’t tear the faces off of your friends.

I watch economists on TV giving horrendous advice, and making unreasonably optimistic predictions. I listen to talk radio and hear people singing the praises of Obama, a man who most people still know almost nothing about. I watch Canadians treating the new President as a living saint. How did that happen? How did he earn this trust? To be sure, he’s an eloquent and capable speaker, but he does not have the power people ascribe to him. The office is simply not that strong.

I read stories about people who signed adjustable rate mortgages knowing full well they couldn’t possibly meet the obligations when they reset. I study cases where Wall Street financiers took one kind of debt-based wealth, sliced it up, wrapped it up into other packages, and somehow turned it into more wealth. That can’t possibly work, and now it’s clear that it didn’t. I’ve read about countless cases of mismanagement and fraud.

The problem, lately, is that I don’t know if people really are this stupid, or if they’re putting me on. If the joke isn’t actually on me, then there are far too many idiots with real power.