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About Michael

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  1. America

    All, I hate to reiterate the point, but some follow-on comments have brought up two very common misconceptions. First, anyone who thinks opportunity costs money in this country is delusional. I am a living example that it's not so. Further, I know of several "grass roots" projects (I hate that term, but it gets the point across) that are doing quite well at providing even more, and on a large scale. Again, I think some people may be confusing the politicians they so despise with the issues and opportunities themselves, and that is a mistake. Our country is full of enough opportunity that even the indigent welfare mothers can afford their own cell phones, and they feel entitled to more than most truly "poor" people can even imagine having in a lifetime. If you think opportunity costs money in this country, I suppose you're right in one respect. But that money is borne on the backs of the taxpayers, and is the prudent and compassionate gift of those who have to those who have not. If you don't think that's so, then I might recommend taking your views to the streets and the voting booths. Put people in office that will support the kind of opportunity you'd like to see. I'm all for positive change, but first comes some personal responsibility for the things you think are so screwed up. Secondly, the economy. Please look into currency exchange rates and what drives them. Where's our economist for this? Please tell me if I'm off base. A strong dollar here in the US means good things for consumers. It means they can buy goods at lower "real" prices. Their dollars are worth more on the world market, and so goods come into the households cheaper when the dollar is strong. Many of us think that means a strong economy. Superficially, we're right. But deeper than that, this is in fact, a WORLD economy. Global trade is not the exception - it's the rule, the standard. Shipping, imports, exports, and the internet have made the globe a very small economic neighborhood. What does that mean in terms of my post here? It means that while a strong dollar is good for consumers, it sucks for the exporters and importers, and therefore, for the businesses that drive our economy. If it takes 5,000 notes in a foreign currency to equal a dollar, foreign buyers can't afford to buy as much as they can when their currency is worth, say, 3,000:1. Hence, foreign buyers (importers) are more likely to wait until the dollar is weaker to buy big ticket items. In a nutshell, that means that whilea strong dollar may be good for the end consumer, it is hurtful to international business. And comparatively, a weaker dollar by virtue of its value compared to foreign currencies drives up buying activity, in turn strengthening the economy all over again. In other words, the cycle is self-healing. One of the wonders of capitalism. People tend to panic at the idea that their money is getting weaker, when in fact, that very cycle of strengthening and then weakening again is what makes it so strong. It's the same with interest rates. We freak out because the national debt is high, but think about it. Interest rates have been at an all-time low. You wait for interest rates to drop when buying your own big-ticket items, right? You try to find credit cards with lower interest rates, and you try to negotiate the lowest rate possible on your mortgage right? Well what happens when interest rates are through the floor? You hurry up and buy a house, a car, and whatever else you can afford to buy while the interest rates are so low, correct? What's that mean? It means you've incurred the biggest debts you'll ever have as a direct result of low interest rates. But those debts would be a lot higher if you incurred them during times of high interest rates, so you get what you need and you save money in the long term. The nation works the same way. When the World Bank decides interest is going to be low, our nation buys and buys because we can afford it better at lower rates. In other words, we build a surplus so that when rates jump up, we can lay off the buying. Low interest equals higher spending. High interest equals reductions in spending. It works that way in your household, and it works that way in government. So forgive me if I've bored you to tears with my own analogies on economics. I know it's not very Tao of me. But I think that these are common enough complaints to warrant an explanation.
  2. America

    I am brand new here, and I don't want to presume anything about the board members here, so please don't take personal offense to anything I'm getting ready to ask. I'm just curious, and being ignorant to the group dynamic here, I'm aware I may step on some toes, but I assure you, it is not intentional. Regarding the comments that America is going to collapse, that we're heading for the biggest economic meltdown ever, and other doomsday comments of that nature, I'm curious: Are these simply emotional responses from people who are angry with our current government, or are they based on some evidence? It seems that the numbers and statistics tell a different story, at least as far as the economy is concerned. Our interest rates are still comparatively low, meaning we can afford to purchase surpluses of goods at lower proces (putting them away for a rainy day, so to speak). Our economy is experiencing pretty substantial growth, especially when you consider how large it is. The job market and unemployment numbers would seem to indicate that everyone that wants a job in this country pretty much has one. Why the doom and gloom? How can you think America's economy is ready to fall apart, and what are you basing these opinions on? I'm not sharpshooting here - I'm genuinely curious, since most of what I've read and seen is to the contrary. Also, about the karma issue. When did karma become a subject to the state? Karma is a principle that exists outside any national borders. It's a personal "lesson plan" so to speak. In reference to the whole country paying the price for the karma of the wicked, doesn't that sort of blow the whole theory out of the water? If the people who've done right and have "built up" (for lack of a better term) their own good karma, isn't it awfully contradictory to assume they will suffer for the misdeeds of others? In my opinion, that kind of philosophy shows a real chink in your belief system. Besides, I'm pretty certain that people have been exploring the ins and outs of karma long before America even existed, so how can we all be expected to pay the price simply because "our parents fucked here." Personally, I am a very proud American. I love this country, and in many ways, I am a product of the abundance of opportunity that exists here. I've grown out of my "station" in this life because the opportunities existed for me to pursue my own dreams. Money was never the motivator, as I spent several years with literally none. From living off the land in the Sierra Nevada mountains to being a homeless guy on the streets of Los Angeles, I realized early that money was not the engine that drives American life, but personal motivation. One can be happy with or without money. Given that fact, what's left? The pursuit of ideals. And America allows for that in each and every life within its borders. Within a year of that realization, I had achieved everything on my "Ambitions List" and found myself working at something I loved, for myself, and making more than enough money to only have to do it about 8 hours a week. I'm still doing that, and it's having a broad ranging impact and saving lives in places most of us would be scared to even go. I'm still a very happy person, as I was when I had no money at all, but now instead of sleeping in a sleeping bag at Salt Creek Beach, I own my own home, and I'm typing to you fine people on my own computer. So for me, the money made conveniences easier, but it certainly hasn't dictated my attitude. And since I've been to other countries and have seen how their people live, I know that what has occurred in my life, while accessible to anyone here, is nearly unheard of in many places. Imagine an Untouchable in India, or a famine stricken tribesman in Africa trying to change his station in life, and watching it happen inside a single year. My attitude toward this country - the reason I believe it to be so wonderful and so great - is based on things I've lived, seen, and experienced. I just wonder if much of the negativity I'm hearing here about our country is coming from facts and experiences, or if it's just emotional reaction to a President or set of policies with which you personally disagree. Looking forward to the discussion.
  3. Newbie

    Hi all. I was just referred here, and I'm looking forward to some good discussions.