Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Saving Newspapers From Themselves

It is obvious to me that newspapers are on the wane. Part of this is due to the Internet, but not by any means is it all the modern electronic age. Much of the blame is right squarely in the managing editor's or the publisher's office. Blinded by tradition and misled by advertising departments, much of the problem can be cured, but not by reduction in services. Let me explain.

First, there are three interest areas in print journalism. The advertiser, the news department and of course the reader. Actually, I shouldn't have said of course when referring to the reader. I have been in sales all my life. The first priority is always the consumer. Unfortunately that simple fact isn't recognized by the executives cooped up in their tradition bound offices, with lesser editors bowing, scraping and toadying to the boss. In short, most editors haven't learned much since the cub reporter days in which their only concern was the area the wrote about.

Let's start by discussing advertisers. They have but one god. Numbers. The more readers or circulation a paper has, the more advertisers they attract. They are not concerned with much else. Position in the paper is a factor, which if it inconveniences the reader is a negative. One of my points is that newspapers as a whole and the spokesman-Review as an example, since that is the one I read daily, are not user friendly. Not just in one way, but many.

My biggest peeve is the jumps. There are usually four main stories on page one. All of them jump to another page for the balance of the story. That isn't necessarily a bad thing, but considering where they jump to, is. For example, when I read my paper, a daily ritual, I cuss at least three or four times while reading from cover to cover. Sloppy jumps are the devil at work. Printer's devil. (I couldn't resist the pun. Sorry)

When jumping from the front page to the interior of the paper, one of two things should happen. Either it should appear on a facing page or the back page. The back page is a natural, except the advertising department gets to sell it at a premium. Why? Because it is the most convenient page for the reader to see. Instead, they jump to an odd numbered page, causing the reader to fold the paper which takes several frustrating shakes and bends. Jumping to an even number lets the reader open the paper without the gyrations previously sneered.

By submitting to the ad department over reader convenience, management has forgotten, if they ever knew, the consumer, which is in charge of circulation and purchases from advertisers. Yet the reader is the last in line priority wise. The bottom line here is that advertisers will flock to a popular publication. Period. Secondly, find a circulation manage that is effective. The last one screwed everything up, failed to cover the areas written about then got promoted. Go figure. In North Idaho, many areas we covered news wise,were not being circulated for the people written about to read their own stories.

Win back the readers you have lost by becoming better balanced on the opinion pages and cease opining on the news sections. In the case of the S/R, Outdoor editor, Rich Landers is so politically biased he should be relegated to the editorial page. Shawn Vestal oozes his political prejudices in the news section. Even William Randolph Hurst would roll over in is grave with today's lack of fairness and separation of opinion and news. This part is difficult to change, because of what I see as a flagrant bias toward liberal causes on editorial staffs. When all are in agreement, is is difficult to be unbiased. It is vital that editors bend over backward to be fair. Your readers are of all persuasions, not just yours.

Many stories in a paper get missed. Why? By jumping to an interior page, many times a reader forgets to go back to the front and start over, missing the stories that are buried in the interior pages. My solutions? Read on.

Refuse to sell the back page. You will get more advertising revenue by turning the tide and increasing circulation. Keep jumps to a minimum and jump to a convenient place, and for crying out loud, stop doing reverse jumps. While structuring or composing a paper is a challenge, it won't be if your readers disappear and you shut your doors.

In the case of the Spokesman-Review, local news, which sells more papers that national and international which can be obtained up to the minute through CNN, Fox news, CNBC, Etc. The S/R has gotten away from local news with the elimination of the Handle Extra, eliminating an entire region just 30 miles away. Folks want to see their activities and that of their children in print. During my time writing for the Idaho editions, I found that to be extremely true.

I admit to some bias in regards to the demise of the Idaho Handle Extra and prior to that, the Voices. Who ever thought up the concept of the neighborhood voices was or is brilliant. I suspect it is a was, since it was probably Stephen Smith that started it and others that dismantled it. Smith resigned because he had the heart of a journalist, not a bean counter. He couldn't stay on board to preside at the paper's funeral.

Back to the reader. If you please me and the others, circulation will increase, and following that, advertising revenue will increase, allowing for more, better local news coverage. You cannot lay off the Idaho advertising staff then claim the Idaho editions were losing money due to lack of ads. Bring back Smith or someone that has printers ink flowing in his or her veins. Reducing the size and breadth of the paper is re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Re-Examining Values/Unintended consequenses

The reason many in our country are opposed to having mostly lawyers in charge of our political process is that other than law, they don't know much. There are very few industrial,medical, statisticians, etc. In other words, these lawyers make decisions for real people doing real things. It isn't that they are inherently evil. They for the most part are just over ambitious egotists that love power. The problem is in how they apply that power.

I'm going to cite some examples of policy gone wrong and the unintended consequences they produce. Take ethanol for instance. Following the trend toward cleaner air, and attempting to control the price of fuel, they haven't done so for the aforementioned reasons.

Our federal government did two things that are helping to bring down our economy. First they subsidized ethanol production. Secondly, they placed import duties on Brazilian ethanol imports. This didn't appreciably bring down gasoline prices, it just created a competition for corn. Speculators in the commodities markets drove both gasoline futures and corn futures out of sight.

Farms and animal finishing plants then had to pay a premium, as they were/are competing for feed corn that now is twice what it was just a few short years ago. The consequence? You and I and especially older people on fixed incomes are paying almost twice what meat prices used to be. It would be nice if farmers were getting a better break, but unfortunately, their feed cost, diesel costs have skyrocketed the cost of farming and finishing beef, hogs and even chickens. The USA used to be proud of it's ability to produce more food for less cost through efficiency. Without a return to commodities sanity, that is over with.

Recently in my neighborhood market, one that is regionally competitive, I found a pound and one-half package of bacon was $7.00. That compares to half that just five years ago. Hamburger at $3.00 per pound. The one of two shelters for the poor. Hamburger and chicken. Chickens are running just as high. Forget about pricier cuts such as steaks. At about $9.00 per pound, most of us can't afford them, but soon, even now, if you look at the labels the grade, "choice," is being downgraded to select. When a meat industry cannot any longer afford the costs of fattening animals for food consumption, and when the retail cost sends people away from their meat counters, the producers start selling "select." That means you are buying range, grass fed beef without the marbling that makes it tender. On the one hand it probably is healthier, but you need a real sharp steak knife to cut it.

These are just two examples of economic policy that has boomeranged. Today, gas prices are nudging $4.00 per gallon again. Not because the Arabs have us over a barrel, but because of the speculating that goes on in the commodities market. Let me explain.

Investors that DO NOT USE the product they are bidding on, just buy the future contracts for delivery, then resell them when the price goes up, which they themselves have caused by the escalating of buying and selling. This applies to oil and grains as well. With feed grains, as I mentioned above, a shortage through an artificial competition for the grains, is much of the problem which then through speculation creates an even worse situation.

Two solutions come to me. Only through pressure on your elected officials can they happen. First, eliminate the farm subsidies for ethanol production. Secondly, eliminate the import duties on foreign ethanol. Thirdly and perhaps the most important, require any investor that buys oil or grain futures to actually take delivery of that commodity. Very rarely does an investor/speculator actually use or even want the product they buy. Just the margin of profit they realize when it is resold to a refinery or grain wholesaler.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Community Rises To Occasion

A benefit auction was held April 30 for the purpose of helping Dorothy Carpenter pay her medical bills. Organized by Samtha & Wayne Hollingsworth, it went off with a bang. A huge crowd turned out and bidding was spirited. In all, thanks mostly to Sam and Wayne, $3462.83 was collected.

May 26, the Hollingsworths presented a check for the entire amount collected, to Mediserve, where the MRI was owed. There is still a hill to climb, but Dorothy has help now and the rest is up to her. We all wish her a speedy recovery. The community is to be commended for it's generosity and caring, even in many cases where they didn't even know Dorothy.

Friday, May 27, 2011


Inspired by Huckleberries on line and DFO reaching 1,000,000 visits already this year, I looked back on my blog which has much more modest results, but then I'm an amateur. Currently I am at as of a few minutes ago, at 106,591 visits and 153,597 page views with a current daily average of 75 visits. I started my blog in mid 2005, but didn't add site counter for a few months. I thought it might be interesting to go back and reprint an occasional way back post. Here is one of the early ones. I will from time to time bring forth more pontifications and unsolicited opinions, where I run across something special. Here is one of the early ones:

Thursday, October 13, 2005

I have witnessed three sneak attacks during my lifetime.

The first, when I was only three years old, was Pearl Harbor, the sneak attack by the Japanese. More than two thousand Naval and Military personnel were killed during that attack.

The second, was the attack on civilians by Moslems. Unable to form effective armies, Arab extremists (read the Koran encouraged) resort to terrorism. The attack on the World Trade Center killed 2726 innocent people.

The third, is on going. It is the attack on the current administration by left wing radicals, including,it seems the majority of the written press. While liberating two countries, Afghanistan and Iraq, bringing a new life to the Kurds, we have lost a total of 2139 lives.

Put into perspective, we lost 386,744 Military and Naval lives in World War two.

We lost 54,246 to death in Korea.

Vietnam deaths totaled 58,152.

All of these deaths were severe blows to the families affected. Still, American Patriots flocked to the banner of freedom...

I can't minimize the 2139 casualties in Iraq. All deaths are a tragedy. What I am attempting to do here is put this all into perspective.

Have we lost the will to defend freedom, or is it just that our media bends the news to reflect their own prejudices.

I am getting old, and maybe it's time. I don't like the direction this country of opportunity is taking. It has always been a statistical certainty that sooner or later the have not's, and underachievers would become the majority, and change this Country irretrevably to something that will resemble the decline of Rome. I am saddened deeply.

Community Council Fundraiser

Huge Yard Sale- Rain or Shine

Saturday, May 28th at the
Bayview Community Center

8am to 2 pm

There is something for everyone!!
• Tools
• Appliances
• Kitchen Ware
• Books
• Clothes
• Electronics and Much, Much More
Proceeds go to the Bayview Community Council

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

I Am Angry!

I am angry. I have relatives in Texas, Indiana and a friend in Iowa. I am angry because it has become obvious that these states and others have no clue as to how to protect their citizens, and when disaster strikes, have no idea how to respond to that emergency. I don't quite know where to start.

First, where the hell are the building codes in states firmly planted in the tornado zones? Why are homes allowed to be built without shelters? Why are mobile home parks allowed here, where the only thing mobile is when the next storm strikes. Yes I am angry. With government over regulating in so many ways, they seem to have forgotten how to regulate the one thing that counts. Saving lives. With mobile home parks, codes should have required a sheltered building be available to all residents to use.

In homestead days, every farmhouse had a root cellar. One use for that cellar was to dive in to avoid being killed by a tornado. In flat country, the only save place is under ground. Before you die, not after. Every area has it's risks. The west coast has earthquake dangers. Modern building codes have provided some safety for those that purchase homes in those areas. The Southeast has it's hurricane risks.

But it's not all government's fault. Stupidity, as one wag recently said, is not curable. Folks that are fully aware of the danger, fail to provide an underground safety spot, where the family can dive in and shut the lid. The example, as sad as it is, of the father and son driving home after high school graduation, having their son sucked out of the sun roof, (open) without a seat belt fastened. How many more ways can you screw up when heading into a serious thunderstorm than that?

In that case, carelessness, stupidity cost a young man his life and his family a lifetime of regret. Just some common sense, a bit of teaching by the parents could have easily avoided this, the only death in the car. Does CNN talk about this? No. Just the sobbing parents of children missing when in many cases the deaths were avoidable. Television news is not the only safety net, but apparently the only one many families follow.

A combination of ignorance, lack of community education and no family memory of past disasters has dumbed down both families and government entities who are responsible for basic public safety. Then we have The "public safety officers." Blocking parents from viewing where they expect to find their children, in some cases when neighbors already told them they witnessed the child dead, and are told they won't be able to view and identify the deceased for at least two weeks.

All of this suggests that building codes need to be re-examined, updated and while some codes tend to be odoriferous, others are necessary for the safety of those ignorant of local conditions. Personally, I'd be very wary of living in an area that has poisonous snakes, fire ants and hungry reptiles, without some education as to the dangers and the methods of avoidance. The same applies to those moving into the tornado alley areas of our country.

The bottom line is that our emergency services don't have a clue as to handle the emergencies they are paid to handle, and unfortunately, many citizens are too ignorant to protect themselves. On the other hand, there have been many deaths and injuries that were not preventable. To those I feel great sympathy. The others? Perhaps natural selection is at work.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Changing Directions. Full Speed Behind.

A couple of days ago, the white house released a statement suggesting that the Premier of Israel and our president had a frank discussion. In political terms that means they didn't bring guns to the table with them. Netanyahu then publicly called out the president on national TV. It turns out that while nation building seems to be part of the agenda, Israel isn't willing to do that by the emasculation of their country.

By declaring the pre-1967 boundaries as the only legitimate borders, Obama overlooked a great deal of history. First, the 1948 borders were not set by any international body. It was an armistice line. both sides had run out of gas at that point. At no time did Israel agree to 1948 as permanent. There is no realistic way, short of annihilating Israel, that they would live without Jeruselem. When they were attacked, and you must remember, none of the wars from 1948 through today were started by Israel. One of the natural misfortunes of war, is that when you lose, sometimes you lose territory as well. That the Moslem community built their temple on top of the ruins of the Jewish temple was an act of deliberate blasphemy toward their cousins.

There is ample historic precedence for losing land. After world war 1, Turkey, through the Ottoman Empire, lost huge amounts of land, which was divvied up by Britain into the modern day middle east countries. MMany glaring errors of judgement happened in that act. For one, they eliminated Kurdistan, dividing it up between Syria, Turkey, Iran and Iraq. Following WW11, both Japan and Germany lost land. I could extend this thread out to infinity and I would have written a history book. I think the former examples will suffice.

Then we come to the historical Palestine, which was not a defined country at all. The west bank was part of Jordan, (awarded by the British) and Egypt who owned the Sinai as well as Gaza. The future borders of Israel were not when awarded statehood, clearly defined. Israel shouldn't have to give away a damned thing until all of the other conquered lands are given back, including the portion of Russia that used to be Poland. Of course in that case we may have to give the south back as well, but perhaps since it was part of the union to begin with, we'll get a pass on that one.

Given that when the Hebrews left Egypt, they found the ten commandments which serves today in most of the civilized world as a basis for common law, and they were awarded the "Promised land, which they held until Rome kicked them out. Jesus was baptised in the Jordan River. West Bank) All over the world every year, the chant, "Jerusalem, next year," is heard. (I don't think I got that exactly right. Perhaps someone can give me that quote accurately.)

So then. To sum up, our president, after sixty-three years of support as part of our foreign policy, has indeed kicked Israel under the bus. But Wait! There's more! Two days later, realizing that he had defecated in his own mess kit he reversed himself, stating that everyone were friends and he was misquoted and misunderstood. Well Mr. president, this has happened way too many times for you to retain any semblance of credibility. I sincerely hope you enjoy your retirement party.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Annuals Invade

For the 28th year, a loose group calling themselves the Annuals have descended upon Bayview, Idaho. Every year, since the small group formed of bachelors when they were first of age, made it a tradition to come to Bayview a week before Memorial Day Week-end. Most years they headquartered at the Captain's Wheel. Last year it was the Floating Patio. This year it was JD's. The usually quiet neighborhood watering hole was deluged with in excess of 75 participants, many of the second generation. Now days they aren't a small group, but they still manage to stay loose.

Prepared to welcome the group, the bar stocked up and added a second bartender. Following a tradition set by Rich Peck many years ago, many jumped into the 44 degree water off of a finger pier at JD's. Rich couldn't make it this year for the first time in all of the 27 previous parties. He just recently had a knee transplant and wasn't mobile. Celebrating with the annuals for the first time, Marie Streater is shown coming out of the water faster than she went in. For the last eleven years, she hosted them at the Captain's Wheel.

One thing that I noticed was that many of the second generation participants were friends of others, not son's as had been the custom in the past. Perhaps there was a little more testosterone in the group because of that, but most were well behaved. The group grows every year.

Sunday found some survivors setting out for home, firmly on the wagon as they headed out. That will last until of course, next year, same week-end.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

When Religion Hic-ups

I am not against religion. Other than the Moslems which have a history of conversion through conquest and torture, most religions teach peace and tolerance But now we have a wacko preacher that has it all figured out. We all gonna die at 6:00 pm local time today. As I am writing this, it is 5:54. I just heard thunder, and saw lightning. Is it the end? Or just the end for the kook that predicted the end. If, after the second time he fails at this prediction, one would think he would lose credibility. Not so. Most fanatics find ways to ooze out of the failure by citing many late breaking events that made the Rapture not happen just now. Thunder just roared again. Could this be the end? Three more minutes.

I will wait in silence for the time to pass. There are, however, benefits to the rapture. We won't have to worry about flooding of lakes and rivers in our area. Global warming will have accelerated to be inclusive in Armageddon. One more minute. Heck, I can hold my breath for that long. Well, at least I usta could. 6:00 pm and all is well. We survived again. My Bayview experience was a few drops of rain,a flash or two of lightning and one final peal of thunder. Perhaps a warning from God, maybe not. He might be sitting out there chuckling at our superstitious stupidity.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Spring Has Sprung

Ordinarily, when a crowd gathers, I like to count the house. That wasn't possible today and tonight as J.D.'s the only bar open, they flocked to it like bees to flowers. I can't tell you how many were there, because likened to a bee hive they were here, there and everywhere. Three deep at the bar, it was fortunate that management brought on a second bartender for the overload, and still, it was touch and go. The gals behind the bar worked furiously and the Annuals were patient, as always.

As they do every year, the Annuals woke up the village of Bayview, in the hope that spring really was here at last. Flooding is all but assured here, just how bad will be under the control of the weather gods,and of course, totally dependent on whether the Rapture arrives tomorrow, in which case none of this matters much.

Tomorrow,the day selected by some biblical scholars as the end of the world, is predicted to have warm temperatures. (not related to sinners)and some showers, as the warming of the area defies the Global Warming predictions of the ecological experts. It is of note however, that 8 or 9 years ago they were predicting a return of the ice age. Personally, I think we had a precursor of the later this winter. As the old 50's song went, "Que Serra Serra." whatever will be, will be. I'll see you on Sunday.

As a side note, as I clicked out of this post, there were ads to my right, asking me to order from somewhere, biblical prophecies. Guess not all of them agree as to when the rapture happens.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Lynching In Progess

This from facebook dialog with "Imahot teacher.:Ima wrote:
"Seriously, Herb, if you don't see that Luna is a complete and utter bully, you're not paying attention. Practically every action/statement has been an either painfully obvious or pathetically veiled effort to silence teachers. Petty details and wordings from either side don't matter much to me.....it's the unfortunate big picture Luna has built that's our problem."

Herb Huseland to Reply
show details 9:50 PM (0 minutes ago)

" painfully obvious or pathetically veiled" unfortunately could be applied to the fact that you have become the poster child for union activism, not teacher of the year. Personally, I would suggest that if you wish to use the handle, "Imahot teacher, you might want to change that to,"Ima hothead." As I pointed out in recent writings, 39 out of 50 states are in deep trouble and are laying off teachers in droves, much worse than in our little community. If you wish to be successful in your profession, which with your over the top activism is doubtful, try going back into the classroom, hold a parents conference and try explaining to them why in your selfish way you have abandoned their children, without even waiting for the new rules to play out.But above all, after your actions, please do not attempt to climb a high horse. You do not possess the high ground in this situation. Perhaps if you wish to be linked to Imahot, you might apply to stateline strippers. They don't have a union either,though, come to think about it. Seriously though, no thinking person would have caused you a problem in the classroom over being attractive. That comes from a noisy minority that you should have been able to ignore, since you are after all, educated, and presumably, sophisticated. Incidentaly, five dots is not proper use of an ellipsis. That would have been three dots. Just sayin', teacher.

The Annuals Return

Most places this time of year, when you speak of annuals, it's about flower gardens. Not here in Bayview. This, I think, the 28th year, is the return of the Annuals which are a group of once young men that trekked to Bayview for a week-end party every year since turning 21. Now they are bringing their sons in an ever growing group numbering sometimes over 60 celebrants or even more.

With J.D.'s the only venue open now, they will get a pleasant surprise starting about this Friday evening. With the weather warming up finally, it should be an interesting next few weeks.

Farragut State Park is gearing up for the season with a great group of Rangers and volunteers. Meagan is back again after budget cuts forced her into a transfer last year. Errin Bair won an award for being the outstanding ranger last year (well deserved) and the rest of the staff as well.

The Sun is shining, but the weather has cooled, allowing some of the excess water to drain back out of Lake Pend Oreille. The risk of flooding is still high, but will depend on how fast the huge snow pack melts. Unfortunately, those down stream along the Pend Oreille River will experience flooding, especially near the low lying farm land around Cusick and Usk.

Tis the official opening of the season here in Bayview, so party on...

Monday, May 16, 2011

It's A Small World

Occasionally I received an inquiry relating to or about those I have written about on my blog. Using key words, I'm easy to find by category or names mentioned. Such was the case when I received an e-mail last Friday. It was from Linda Braught of the Spokane Valley.

Linda is a stamp collector,and as such prowls garage sales and other locales for old stamps. She hit the jackpot at such a sale. A huge box of letters, deeds and ancient bank statements that once belonged to country music legend, Slim Dossey. Through the magic of Google, she located me with some pieces I did featuring slim performing here in Bayview. She wondered, after curiosity nudged her into reading many of the letters, if Slim really didn't want them anymore, or was he even still alive. Well, I answered that question with a hearty yes he is. At age 92, he's still singing for many elderly people at assisted living facilities in the area. Slim had to break up his house keeping a few years ago due to a back injury he suffered. He now lives in an assisted living facility.

I couldn't remember what place he moved to,but found out this morning. Slim resides at Ivy Court on Ironwood Place in Coeur d' Alene. After talking to Slim it was obvious he wanted the letters, deeds and other old papers and referred me to his son,Jim for action. Linda, after reading many of the letters became an admirer of Slim and his now deceased family who appeared to be very close and great letter writers.

At last word the principals of this drama are making arrangements to meet and visit, and to return the lost letters, etc.

With the Memorial Day week-end approaching, it is appropriate to remind you that Slim was in the Navy during World War 11 and went through basic training at Farragut Naval Station.

Friday, May 13, 2011

This N' That

Members Sheryl Puckett and Dorothy "Zak" Zakrajek, of the Bayview Community Council, celebrate the dedication of a new park bench at the public boat launch in Bayview. Purchased by the council and approved by the Parks and Waterways Commission, boat owners now have a place to park their kids while launching boats. Others will indubitably use the bench for watching children wading and the main sport in Bayview, feeding ducks and geese. The council is to be commended for their support of community projects. What a pleasure to work with Kootenai County Parks & Waterways when the members of the Bayview Community Council asked to place a bench at the boat launch.
"Maria Petris, superintendent, was truly supportive of our efforts to provide a place for people to sit and enjoy the lake.Be sure to come check it out and relax while taking in the sights,"said Sheryl Puckett.

On the restaurant front, delays have plagued the reopening of both full service restaurants in Bayview. The Buttonhook ran into problems with renewing the liquor licence, finding that the licence was still in Bob Holland's name. That necessitated the issue of a completely new permit which usually takes 45 days or so for the investigation and finger print record check.

Similar problems exist for the Captain's Wheel Restaurant. Closed for over a year, the new owner, Pat McIntyre, had health problems shortly after acquiring the facility, delaying the processing of permits, etc. They too are waiting for a liquor licence which should be forthcoming shortly. It goes without saying that residents and visitors are anxiously waiting for these spots to open, so more options will be available.

As it stands now, all three meals are available at Ralph's Internet Cafe, but with limited seating capacity. That will solve itself when the weather turns a bit warmer, as he has a large outdoor seating area.

The Bay Cafe, serves breakfast and lunch, prideful of the fact that all of their food is prepared from scratch. J.D.'s doesn't serve food and is a smoking bar, which puts off many non-smokers.Both the Wheel and Buttonhook will be non-smoking.

The weather was beautiful for Easter, which is far different than the last few years when we had rain and cool weather for the egg hunt, which has been organized by the Bayview Chamber the last two years.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

The Collapse of Our Economy And Why

In order to fix a problem you have to understand what caused it. Our economic situation is now called the "Great Recession," to separate the dialogue from the original "Great Depression."

Originally, it is thought that rampant speculation in the stock market, along with low margin requirements started the whole thing. People were gambling on an out of control upswing in the stock market, but gambling with money they didn't own. When the market started to fall, margin calls went out to the investors. That meant they had to finish paying what they bought the stocks for in cash. The vast majority of stockholders couldn't do that, and the market plunged even further. Ergo, the crash of 1929. What most people today do not understand is that the depth of the depression didn't hit until 1932 and 1933. It wasn't until the U.S. started to crank up the industrial side to tool up for what loomed as the second world War that the depression was finally but slowly on it's way out.

Starting in 1929, it didn't really end until early 1939. Ten miserable years in which literally thousands of Americans starved. If it hadn't been for the fact that most in our country lived on either family farms, or at least acreage they could convert into food production, even more would have succumbed.

The post depression years were filled with two things. The first, World War two, the second many band aids were applied to regulate the economy so that this would never happen again. I'm not going to get blatantly into partisanship more than I have to here, but still, many will on both sides of the dogmatics crowd, think I have.

First, laws were passed so that Banks were limited to the state they were chartered in. Secondly, limitations were applied to percentages of stocks could be borrowed on margin. Another, and perhaps the most serious was the separation by law, of investment houses from commercial banks. Keep this paragraph in mind, as we revisit the subject again. These laws have all been overturned.

During the Forties and 50's, the era I grew up in, there weren't many safety nets, as they are popularly called. Old people were on county welfare, a system that kept starvation away, but didn't stop the roof from leaking. Social Security was introduced in 1937, started in January 1938, but payouts started in 1942, just four years after it's inception. By rushing into payments that hadn't accrued in this what was called an insurance program, negative cash flow started right from the beginning.

For those of you with computers, here is the short history of Social Security:

Over the years, Politicians ran for office, generally promising a chicken in every pot and the government would provide the pot. Citizens ran for office, country, state, and federal, by promising to deliver things. Benefits, housing, jobs, etc. and they are still doing it today. Obviously, in a system whereby a politician is elected by what he or she can deliver, the ones that promised the most were usually elected. If they produced what they promised, they were usually re-elected as well. What the dumbed down populous didn't think about, was that when benefits ere delivered, they paid for them, not the "Government."

Taxes began to rise, as did the benefits. We have arrived to this, the second great depression because we wanted more from government than they could deliver, yet they continued to promise these things to the point over the years, and as new generations appeared, until we stopped paying attention to our history, or that history was altered to fit special interests. As new generations came along, they now expected as their right to have all of these government programs.

While the industrial revolution was taking place, several social adjustments were as well. Unions organized, and sweat shops, child labor and such began to disappear. Wages went up and conditions improved, but like everything in life, the pendulum swings and with government, it usually swings hard past the original intents. Good old American know how and industrious workers managed through increased productivity. Manufacturers modernized their factories, and labor became more efficient.

We finally came to a point where the union movement had virtually taken over manufacturing in this country by pricing it's labor beyond what efficiency could absorb. When that happened, U.S productivity no longer could hold off the developing countries, some of which while we were not looking had become more developed than our selves, yet with economies that did not match ours. Their labor was less costly, mostly because their society had not gone the same route as we. People were living in sub-standard housing, even mud huts, but they were eating and educating their children who now are our scientist and engineers that were brought here because we weren't filling that gap through our own efforts.

We are in a declining civilization. We have all heard of "The Rise and Fall of Europe," but most assumed wrongly that it couldn't happen here. Over thousand of years civilisations have appeared, bloomed in wealth, then passed by by stronger countries, perished. We are a spoiled nation that demands that when tax revenues fall short, government support all of the programs that we have become accustomed to. Child care, Kindergarten, pre-school, none of which existed during my childhood.

Inflation took away the ability for most mothers to stay at home, and even with two incomes we aren't where we were when mom left home to work. During 1967-68 social security annual maximum payments stopped at $4400 per year. I passed that in the first quarter. Today social security is in trouble because it was mismanaged from the beginning. If private retirement funds were run the way our government runs it they would have been jailed long ago.

Our congress, when having to fund a war, borrows the money from the Social Security trust fund. A trust fund that exists in name only, as it has been drained away. Most high tech jobs have gone elsewhere and will stay off shore until either the countries that have our business now, bring their economy up to ours, or wages in this country dip to the levels of theirs.

While wall street celebrates increasing profits those profits were obtained from goods and services produced by foreigners, not our over priced labor force. Some have indignantly asked me, "why can't our laborers become middle class too." The answer is they can't and still have our over all economy survive. As in other countries, many without a middle class, the rich get richer and the poor, poorer. Cheaper commodities won't cure anything if our average citizen can't afford to buy them at any price. Look for our illegal immigrant problem to solve itself. Soon there will be an Exodus back to where they came from. Our day has passed, through greed and a history of lying office holders. Hire honest people and we'll maybe, just maybe get back to where we want to be.

Of all states, according to a study just published in the AARP newsletter and based on stats from the Center on Budget and policy priorities, the stats of interest are as follows. These are projected deficits by state, percentage wise for 2012:

Idaho at 3.9 billion, one of only three states with deficits less than 5%. Nevada, home of our senate leader, leads the deficit parade with 45.2 billion, followed by New Jersey at 37.4 billion. Texas with 31.5 billion top the front runners. Washington State is at 16.2 % and California at 29.3 as is Oregon at 25%. The winner on the low end is Indiana, led by former budget director in the Bush administration, Governor Mitch Daniels at an even 2%. Perhaps the Republican Party should be looking at Daniels instead of the glamour kings of the party. At least Daniels knows how to roll up his sleeves and do the business of governing without the demagoguery that plagues us all.

Friday, May 06, 2011

When Pend Oreille Floods

I'm experiencing deja Vu all over again. Moving to Bayview in 1995, I had arrived just in time for an awesome ice storm, followed by a flood. I have seen many rivers flood. After all, I lived most of my life in the valleys of Western Washington. There, either the Green River or the Cedar flooded about every other year, until they finally built flood control dams. I had never seen a lake flood before.

In some ways it was fun, as in an interesting experience. In other ways it was terribly destructive to the marinas and other waterfront businesses. The primary sources of water for the lake are Pack River and the Clark Fork. The Clark Fork runs all of the way from the continental divide in Montana, into Lake Pend Oreille. During high water years, millions of gallons of water flow into the lake, with the Pend Oreille River it's only outlet. With the dams at Cabinet Gorge, a few miles up the Clark Fork, and again at Albeni Falls, near the juncture of the Pend Oreille River and Priest River. That is the lake's only outlet. a bottleneck, if you will.With three rivers plus numerous streams and springs feeding the lake, add snow melt and the outlet is overpowered. Ergo, the lake floods.

With the snow pack averaging 150% in north Idaho and western Montana, and in some places, 180%, A moderate to major flood is looming. How much water we get will depend on the weather. If we get a sudden warming trend with a lot of rain, the high snow from the divide will start rolling down the Clark Fork with nowhere to go but up.

Some things to know: Timberlake Fire District has about 600 sand bags located at the Bayview station, with many more at close reach. Lakes Highway district provides the sand and individual volunteers provide the shovels and operators. 1997 floods brought the Idaho National Guard into Bayview as well, though they may be deployed in Afghanistan this time around.

Flooding can be expected at all of the marinas, as well as the large parking lot in the middle of town and the low lying condos at Boileau's. The one thing that is positive in all of this is the fishing is great, since the mud line comes all the way down lake to Cape Horn, leaving just the southern end of the lake for fish to find clean water.

Look for all of this, depending on the weather, to happen in early to mid-June, just about one month from today.

Flood history:
1948 2071.62
1950 2067.11
Post dams
1997 2065.74
1972 2065.70
1974 2065.47
expected in 2011
2066 to 2067 above sea level.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Will Pend Oreille Flood?

Watching the continuation of snow fall in the mountains, I have started to remember June, 1997 when Lake Pend Oreille rose out of it's normal summer banks and flooded many buildings and in some cases, float homes floated up past the height of pilings and wandered off.

I called Craig Brengle, US Army Corps of Engineers and asked him one question. "Will Lake Pend Oreille flood this year?" His answer was, "There is a very good chance it will." He went on to say, "The snow pack in Northern Idaho and Western Montana is over 150% of normal. The risk of flooding is absolutely there, but depends on the rate of snow melt."

A sudden warm spell punctuated by heavy rainfall could tip us over. He went on to say, "we will shortly open Albeni Falls Dam all the way and let the build up of water escape down the Pend Oreille River. This could very likely cause flooding in the river valleys."

The 1997 flood was about 2.5 feet above normal summer level. This year there is a possibility of even higher water, again depending on the rate of melt. Since '97, marinas have lengthened the pilings so that most of the docks should stay put.

***More stats: Normal summer level is 2062.5. Flooding is at 2063.5. A moderate flood state is measured at 2066. 1997's flood was at 2065.74. In the Corps estimated worst case happens, it would be slightly worse than 1997.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Tears And Cheers

Tears and cheers were the order of the day as the benefit for Dorothy Carpenter kicked off Saturday about noon. The cheers were for Dorothy, who is bravely fighting paralysis in both legs. The tears were not of sadness, but were tears of joy, as she felt the love being projected by the crowds, which numbered over 200.

With the auction outside, and live music provided by the J.W. Hardin band inside, a good time was had by all. The auction started at 1:00 pm with black clouds threatening off to the west. By the time the storm hit, the auction was just completed, as though God was holding it back so the maximum was realized at the auction. It was successful way beyond expectations as over $2000 was raised by friends, neighbors and folks from outside the area looking for bargains, then bidding more just to help out. One woman auctioned off herself as a housekeeper for a week, then insisted her boyfriend bid higher, to avoid someone else having her services. They both won.

The last items sold, everyone dashed inside or to their cars as the heavens opened up, lightning flashed and thunder roared it's approval of a day gone good. Inside the beer flowed, the joint rocked and everyone had a great time. This community really pulls together when a person is in trouble, as exhibited time and time again.