Episode-1129- Listener Feedback for 5-13-13 — 32 Comments

  1. I’ll be honest, I have been on the fence regarding your (clearly solid) statements regarding a future pension program. How absolutely over the top ridiculous. What the hell is Social Security if its not a retirement/pension program?!
    “USA Retirement Fund”. Kinda like the Social Security Trust?
    Give me a break.

    This was/is one solid podcast. You’re definitely on point today.

  2. Jack.

    Stockton may in fact have the money . Stockton runs along the easterly most deepwater port in the San Francisco bay area. They also appear own several properties throughout the city along the I5 corridor. From their website; EDD conducted extensive research of the City’s real estate assets to determine if there are excess
    properties that can potentially be sold.

    This, along with their dissolved Redevelopment agency, both contain real and percieved value. From everything it appears, Stockton is more interested in keeping its assets and clearing it’s books by showing a diminished value of owned property than trying to re-fund their obligations.

    Stockton is trying to follow Orange County through this model where they force a haircut as part of the path to return to prosperity after taking excessive risk during a upswing in the economy.

    Now, I am not saying that you are not correct in the true harm that is going to come out of this exercise. I think you are spot on if not underestimating.

    I think though that this is going to actually end up being a more common practice than predicted if asset protection of city/state/county resources becomes the priority that is upheld in court. Classic Strategic Default. This is simply an example of some of the largest cities taking on this business decision.

    Never let a good crisis go to waste, right?


      • @David

        Interesting point. I have a hard time disagreeing with you, at least your speculation regarding excessive risk during upswings, is definitely something I’ve seen in action. Actually to be honest, I might consider haircuts better than selling assets regardless. I mean maybe that isn’t standard practice, but if you’re a city government who is told to provide services by the population (who established you to begin with) if the services can’t be funded due to bills, the bills should be wiped away at an investment loss. This is such an obvious sign of loose monetary policy and a bubble in bonds.

      • I hope you can find a competent developer for Agritrue who will bite at $1k +25% equity. My personal experience indicates at the moment demand for COMPETENT coders for this category of work is still very high and they can damn near name their price. Again, the keyword is competent, slacker hacks are dime a dozen. You *might* be better off budgeting $10k and 0% equity and going offshore with a solid requirements doc if it doesn’t contradict your mission too much.

      • My comment should be placed at the root level. I was going to comment on this topic but changed my mind and refreshed. The system did not indicate I was still attached to this topic.

      • Ok, following my own bastard sub-topic now. LOL.

        Jack, another possibility is to look into the computer science departments of local universities if you have one with a strong CS program. Sometimes the graduate schools offer “business” partnerships for graduate projects. Occasionally you can get seriously talented coders BEFORE they go making mad bank for a fraction of what a US based development firm would cost. If my local school is a guide, $5k might be a benchmark, though I haven’t checked in a while.

        Just an idea. Hopefully you’ll get some great responses.

  3. The item about the ” mower gang” mowing the parks took me back 25 years. Was an EMT at the time and heard the S.O. Dispatcher call for one of thier cars to go checkout a complaint that someone was grading one of the chert roads. The deputy replied that he had been on that road needed grading as he had been on it the day before so he might have a 2 hour response time.

  4. The amazon coins – the main issue I see keeping from ever being a real crypto-currency is that is seems to be tied to a dollar value [penny value…] so why would anyone ever pay more than 1 cent per if that’s all it is worth at Amazon? If someone wants to bid 1.1 cent, someone else would buy them for 1cent & sell them to that idiot for 1.1 & get the profit, immediately bringing the value back to 1 cent. And if anyone ever sells for less than 1 cent, people will buy to use for 1 cent at amazon. So bid/sell will always hover over the 1 cent value..

    • No not really, Amazon is a global company and does business in many currencies around the world. The coin isn’t tied to the dollar directly or certainly doesn’t have to be.

  5. now, if amazon ever unties it- and a floating value develops, and they list $ & amazon coin prices individually for all their items, then it could be a real currency [assuming the could get it setup to be usable elsewhere..]

  6. Jack, it’s not just the land of farting unicorns and rainbows… this story is from Portsmouth, Virginia. (Just across the river from Norfolk.)
    The city doesn’t have the money to pay the pensions it owes.
    So they’ve voted to issue bonds to cover the pension debt.
    No one bothered to ask how the City is supposed to pay back the bonds, PLUS interest, when they can’t pay back that same amount *without* interest.
    It’s mind-boggling.

  7. The fungus idea lead me to start an experient a few weeks ago. I put in a 35 foot conture woody bed part with a wood core and part without, and on the uphill side of the swale I drove a grid of wooden stakes. I figured the wood could fuel the fungus. The location is NE from Mckinney, tx with multiple feet of black gumbo dirt. You were talking about the humus layer being a lake in a forest, well I think we may have something more, every time it rains crawdads dig tunnels to the surface of my yard and I found standing water at 5 ft down. So far no obvious change.

  8. Jack,

    I agree with the point you make about sustainability. I don’t see Kansas as quite so far off the mark, though. At least they are forward thinking and attempting to ward this thing off at the pass. The state recently passed a firearms law mirroring that of Wyoming, stating that all firearms that remain within the state are subject only to federal firearms laws as they existed in 1861, and that anyone trying to enforce anything other will face criminal charges. I believe the Agenda 21 bill follows the same line of thought.

    The legislature does need to be more specific in their verbiage, though. Call a spade a spade. Lay it out there that Agenda 21, or any current or future code words for Agenda 21, will not be implemented in the state of Kansas. Agenda 21 isn’t hard to spot once a person has some familiarity with it. Wording it this way would leave open all other responsible and honorable pursuits of sustainable living while heading off the control freaks.

  9. Jack,

    You are right on when it comes to Stockton. I was the Deputy Director of Collections & Maintenance (Collections as in sewer and storm water, not money!) from 2009 to 2012. I only hired on to address a consent decree they were under for too many sanitary sewer overflows (185 per mile, per year). When I left due to the obvious crap that was going on, they were down to 8 per mile, per year. Anyway, I was so frustrated with their Disneyland mentality that I had to run away, but not before I spoke to the mayor and suggested that they sale the enterprise accounts (water & sewer) to balance the budget. The plan would have brought them much closer to solvency with no lay offs. You see, they just built a $125M water treatment plant & intake, have 922 miles of sewer lines 30 sewer lift stations, a sewer treatment plant on 650 acres that can treat 55MGD but only processes approx. 30MGD (room to bring in more profit from the surrounding farmland as it is developed) and a water system that I don’t know as we’ll but it has all of the tanks, booster pumps, wells, pipes, customs and the property that goes with them.

    I also told this to the then new City Manager, Bob Deis, who told me in front do 125 city employees that the city council would not do this as it viewed the enterprise accounts as cash cows. Understand that it is illegal to commingle enterprise and general fund accounts & it is only the general fund that is bankrupt at Stockton. How can the enterprise accounts be a cash cow unless you are commingling the accounts illegally!

    The previous, city manager took approx. $34M from the enterprise accounts to build the ball field, marina and event center. Jarvis sued the city. The city was ordered to pay back $1.1M per year to the enterprise accounts. Instead, they began charging rent for the property that the sewer & stormwater lift stations, wells, booster pumps etc. were on at a rate of $1.7 or $1.8M per year! Wait, it gets better…

    When Stockton claimed its bankruptcy, it no longer had to pay the $1.1M per year back but could still charge the enterprise accounts the $1.7 or .8M per year for property rental.

    If anyone is wondering, yes, I voted in the WTF web site and I am planning a strategic exit and retirement taking many years in the water, waste water, public works, search & rescue, hazmat, EMS and California’s money to be spent in another state!

    Yes Jack, TX is still in the running.

    • I think the average person has a fundamental disconnect about what a ‘city’ really is. Particularly in the case of ‘municipal corporations’.

      In the case of a city like Stockton.. think of it in terms of a ‘factory town’..

      Its owned by the company, and they make the rules, which are all for THEIR benefit. You live there at there sufferance, and if you don’t like it, your only option is to WTF.

      The ‘company town’ is owned by the bureaucrats.. and their primary concern is THEIR welfare. First, keeping the protection money.. i mean taxes.. long as possible, and as much as possible. Second, lining their, and their cronies pockets before the jig is up.

      If you think this is unfair or overly dramatic.. what fundamental change in the status quo have you seen in your municipality in YOUR LIFETIME.. or even in the entire recorded history of your town?

      Any wholesale firings or reorganization? Any repeal of taxes or simplification of municipal codes? Any jailings or recompense from ‘the connected’ when they’re caught with their hand in the till?

      What bureaucracy has EVER worked against their own self-interest? And why would you/we expect them to?

      Without an active populace, electing reform performing (not promising) senior officials.. you’re screwed.

  10. I may get several bags of that coffee if it’s partly responsible for your jovial and cheerful mood on this episode Jack.

    • I spoke with Matthew at Mai Thai Coffee via email. Some of the BEST customer service service I have EVER HAD. I have a sample in the mail and if it is as good as Jack says, I’m ordering MORE then $60 worth.

  11. The Greatest Generation. I think if we were to look back we would see that Madison Avenue sold that generation on the idea that they “deserved” a better life. That idea spread through TV commercials till it became our culture. We deserve a “____”, fill in the blank. A better car, bigger house, bigger washing machine, bigger car, more money, less work, better health, more food, more free time, earlier retirement, bigger TV’s, more TV’s, throwaway marriages, disposable babies… If you can’t afford it, borrow the money, you deserve it. If you can’t win honestly, cheat, you deserve it. If you don’t have a perfect spouse and family, throw it away and start again, you deserve it. Jack, you briefly mentioned a reward for the sacrifices of winning WWII. The only reward there can be for such a historically significant achievement is the freedom from tyranny itself that they fought so hard to win. That is the reward the founders of our great nation enjoyed, and it will be the reward for the next greatest generation that will be tasked with saving our nation from tyranny once again.

    • excellent points.

      For anyone interested in generational relationships, and how they cycle.. I highly recommend ‘The Fourth Turning’.

      In summary, it documents and explains how society moves in a cycle through four seasons (Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall) and that each of those seasons shapes the character of that generation. That character leads to certain types of action or inaction, which lead to a ‘crisis’ (winter).

      That crisis must be overcome (or not) by the ‘heroic’ generation.. (the last one being WWII). The heroes were born in the fall, and come into their power during the winter (crisis). If they ‘win’.. they then come home and bask in the spring time, and have kids that they promise will never have to go through what they did (the boomers).

      This ‘spring’ generation has never known hardship (winter).. there entire lives everything has come easy to them (relatively) and they’ve been dotted on by their parents. They’re ‘dreamers’.

      Because they’re self-centered.. they neglect their children (they’re too busy with their ‘own lives’) and everything else (the civilization).. their children are ‘abandon’ and become pragmatic. Hard headed and practical, this generation (Gen X) pays attention to their kids.. too much (see how it swings back and forth).. and we get Gen Y.

      Gen Y is the ‘heroic’ generation for this cycle. The one that will have to make the sacrifices to fix what the boomers f’d up. Gen X will be the ‘generals’ during the crisis. The pragmatists who will be called upon to make the hard decisions.

      For any Gen Y’rs reading this.. on the plus side, if you make it through the crisis.. you get to live a life basking in the afterglow of your heroic saving of civilization.. and raise your own generation of spoiled kids.. 😉

      • Didn’t mention the generation born in the winter.. they pretty much do what the heroic generation tells them to do. They’re ‘maintainers’..

  12. Got to comment on the Kansas story, (since I know you wouldn’t respect me if I just blindly agreed with you!). What I think you’re kind of missing, is that they aren’t saying that they will OUTLAW sustainability, but that “No public funds may be used” to that end. Your ‘rant’ sounded more like ‘if you try to be sustainable, we’ll arrest you’, but it seems clear to me they’re just preventing public funds being used for programs that support it.

    Now, we can no doubt agree that if they’re going to steal our money and spend it on things beyond our control, sustainability would be a less offensive thing thank most to spend that stolen money on.

    Further, we’d likely agree that it is unlikely that this is the first step in Kansas refusing to take and spend the peoples money or that they are on the cusp of becoming the freest and most libertarian state in the union. So them stopping the funding of sustainability is generally more loss than gain.

    I’m just saying that they’re not really ‘outlawing sustainability’.


  13. Jack, I regularly enjoy your podcasts. But your comments regarding Kansas’ reaction to sustainability are ill-informed. Please become familiar with the scope of Agenda 21 and the International Green Construction Code (IGCC) and reconsider your comments. “Sustainability” does not equal “permaculture”. The IGCC is the codification of LEED, presently a voluntary program sponsored by the US Green Building Congress. The IGCC is a gross over-reaching of government control under the auspices of the “police power of the state” (a legal concept that justifies building, zoning and other codes to protect the health, safety and welfare of the populace.) For example, under the IGCC, if you own property with a creek or other surface water present, your property is not yours. I’m an architect, a LEED accredited professional and a member of USGBC and ICC (the issuer of IGCC). Kansas appears to be approaching the issue correctly, that is in a manner which preserves private property rights and personal freedom.

    Thanks again for your show.

    • Oh I am informed and banning anything sustainable is stupid if you are informed.

      • Since you consider yourself so informed, please be so kind as to share your opinion regarding IGCC Section 402.8. I’d also appreciate hearing your thoughts on the mandatory limits on zEPI and CO2e.

        Again, what the state of Kansas is banning is making “sustainability” (as defined by left wing bureaucracies) mandatory. It is not banning “sustainability”. But you probably know this since you are so informed.

        • Actually I read the full text of the bill you are wrong and off base, now why don’t you go read the full text of the bill.

        • I also read the bill. Please note that in its definition of sustainable development it specifically excludes the idea, principle or practice of conservation or conservationism.

          What you seem to not understand is that “sustainablity” is a new code word for global warming, a bogus notion at best.

          Thank you for considering and responding to my comments.

        • Wrap the foil tighter and keep tuning into Beck and Jones. By the way I really like Beck in many ways, been on his show, he was part of my motivation to create TSP but he is in deep left field on this issue. If you are worried about agenda 21 you don’t need to do anything except get rid of imminent domain and recognize sovereign property rights. Sustainability government backed or otherwise isn’t the problem.

        • I’m sorry but I don’t listen to either Beck or Jones, and my hats don’t include anything fashioned out of tin foil.

          Obviously you don’t agree with me that mandatory “sustainability” (read: global warming) measures are a symptom of a malady that afflicts the US. Gun control is another symptom of the same thing.

          My family has lived in the state of Maryland for almost 300 years. The last of the line, I’m preparing to leave the state. Even in the state of Maryland, the IGCC was only adopted (at the present) on an optional basis leaving the mandatory adoption up to the individual county. But the mandatory adoption will eventually occur. There are some states (e.g. Oregon) who adopted the IGCC before it was even officially issued. The state of Kansas should be congratulated for their pending legislation.

          I hope that eventually you will have the time to look into such issues as the mandatory adoption of the IGCC, Agenda 21 measures and forced sustainability measures.

          Thank you.

        • Actually I completely agree about global warming with you, I agree with you MOSTLY on Agenda 21, I find the solution Kansas republicans wrote up stupid and it WILL BE USED TO DISCREDIT people like you and me, wake up dude, J

  14. Jack you scare me when you mention bitcoin and amazoncoin in the same sentence without mentioning the critical difference between the two. While Amazon might be successful becoming a “central bank” of its own, it should not be compared to bitcoin because bitcoin REMOVES the need for that middle man.

    While someday Amazon might drive a lot of business denominated in AmazonCoin, websites like Reddit, DropBox and WordPress aren’t going to go out of their way to accept AmazonCoin for their services; but its true that in the next decade Amazon will be pressured into accepting a cryto currency like bitcoin on its checkout page.

    Also, Bitcoin has a market cap of well over a billion right now. That’s some pretty fast growth considering its been around for about 3 years. Instead of imaging what Amazon could do with its own currency, imagine whats going to happen to bitcoin when Amazon starts accepting it