- Last Updated on Wednesday, 05 August 2009 05:00
- Published on Wednesday, 05 August 2009 05:00
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The recession began during the last quarter of 2007 and the gross domestic product fell by 2.8%. There was a slight rebound during the first quarter of 2008, but during the rest of the year, the direction was all down. Consumer demand was off and prices declined. The latter was a sure sign of the rather scary economic phenomena known as deflation.
And most worrisome, foreclosures and bankruptcies reached levels not seen since the great depression. Also, to add to the confusion, the banking system, with its faltering mortgage backed securities, seemed on the verge of collapse. Sometimes, even a few months later, it’s easy to forget how bad things had gotten.
- Last Updated on Wednesday, 29 July 2009 05:00
- Published on Wednesday, 29 July 2009 05:00
- Hits: 250
Next to my keyboard there is battered old pocketknife that belonged to my grandfather. It’s seen better days. I have no idea of the brand. The little plate that identified its maker is long gone. It’s a simple affair. It had two blades and is in a green case. My granddad died 40 years ago, and I have no idea how old it is. One knife, the shorter of the two, is broken off. No doubt Poppy, as we called my granddad, used it to pry something open and it wasn’t up to the stress. The second is still functional, but it’s been sharpened so many times that its shape has been distorted. I don’t use it, of course. It’s a keepsake, and is a connection to the roots of my own passion for the pocketknife.
Pocketknives, for many, are something of a throwback. A handy tool, that in our progressively urban world, is often associated with farmers, outdoorsman, and, of course, folks who sit on their porch and whittle. Usually, the latter, to some of my city friends, is an image that’s also associated with drinking moonshine and playing the banjo on the front porch. But pocketknives have moved well beyond that. And I have several that prove that point. I have one, that has, let’s see, a saw, three kinds of screw drivers, a cork screw (very important), a can opener, a pair of scissors, tweezers, tooth pick, fish hook remover, and several other tools I haven’t quite figured out yet. It’s handy, but it has one drawback. It’s heavy and in my pocket manages to feel like I am carrying a brick. So, my preference is for something smaller.
- Last Updated on Wednesday, 22 July 2009 14:45
- Published on Wednesday, 22 July 2009 14:45
- Hits: 281
When Walter Cronkite retired in 1981, in his typical, fatherly, and always gentle manner, he said that his departure wasn’t all that important. He had been preceded by a fine journalist and would be followed by a fine journalist. It was, in his words, “just a passing of the baton.”
At the time he was probably right. Broadcast news was still at its height. CNN had only been on the air for a year and the Internet was still a long way off. The evening news, anchored by names such as Chet Huntley, David Brinkley, and Howard K. Smith, was still one of the principal sources for news and information. And the people who guided us through that half hour wrap-up of world events each evening were trusted visitors to our homes. Walter Cronkite, one of those handful of welcomed TV visitors, died last week at age 92. According to several polls in the 1960s and ’70s, when Cronkite was at the height of his fame, he was considered the most trusted man in America.
- Last Updated on Wednesday, 15 July 2009 19:22
- Published on Wednesday, 15 July 2009 19:22
- Hits: 296
During a recession, the Federal Government has one big advantage over everyone else. It can run a deficit and continue to borrow. In a sense, as some like to say, it can just keep printing money. However, other governments, such as states, counties, towns and cities, don’t have this option. Though some can run a deficit for a little while, in the end, they all have to come up with some way to balance the books.
Though revenue for local governments often fluctuates, sometimes dramatically, they rarely find themselves looking at the possibility of default. Usually, through belt tightening, higher taxes and borrowing, they can get through a tough spot. However, this year is putting the soundness of many state and local governments to the test. Some are getting by and others aren’t doing well at all.
- Last Updated on Wednesday, 08 July 2009 15:15
- Published on Wednesday, 08 July 2009 15:15
- Hits: 338
Tim Kaine is a popular and well-liked governor. He is considered honest, straight forward, and generally willing to tell it like it is. That’s a refreshing trait in any politician, and it has served Kaine well in his nearly four years as governor. However, if Kaine isn’t careful, this reputation, and with it his legacy, could be in trouble.
Most political observers would readily agree that Tim Kaine has always been a political governor. This is in contrast to his predecessor, Mark Warner, who tended to downplay his role as leader of the party. Warner helped the party, raised money and recruited candidates, but he did so quietly. He wasn’t eager to agitate the Republicans any more than he had too. He figured, rightly, that he would need their help down the road, so making a lot of political noise just wasn’t advisable.
- Last Updated on Wednesday, 01 July 2009 20:31
- Published on Wednesday, 01 July 2009 20:31
- Hits: 312
They are just three words, imprecise, to say the least, that close the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence. This section of the declaration, perhaps the most memorable of the entire document, states «We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” It was remarkable enough for the Founding Fathers to declare the equality of mankind and the sanctity of natural rights, but its closing phrase did something that no government document had ever done, and that’s to state that the pursuit of individual happiness is a right of humankind.