Archive for October, 2010

Recovery and Reinvestment

Kwik Trip © Jim Korpi

I must be a Democrat. Surely I must be. If I dream of one day reading a book while lounging back in my seat as I travel from one United States city to the next in a high speed train, then I must be a Democrat. Or would I simply be a human hoping for the sanity of when I don’t hop in my car, which costs me hundreds of dollars to maintain and insure every year, weave my way into a four-lane highway of traffic and nervously shark my way into an hour-long search for a parking spot? Please help me to understand were I fit in the political spectrum of ideas. I need to pick a side. November is just next month.
I’m being told of certain hopeful politicians blowing rhetorical smoke of “subsidizing” rail infrastructure, and how we can’t afford such a scheme, in hopes of striking a nerve in fear of “big government” and higher taxes. Don’t we, the tax payer, pay for the roads that grow wider with every American Recovery and Reinvestment dollar spent? Don’t we pay for the ring roads that circulate traffic around cities causing suburb ring, after suburb ring, after suburb ring…?
Ohio is being offered 8 billion dollars to connect the three C’s, Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati, cities rotting from the core due to suburb growth. The politicians are divided down party lines as to whether or not the state should accept federal dollars for such an endeavor.
The third largest recipient of American Recovery and Reinvestment dollars in Ohio is American Electric Power (AEP), the single largest land owner in the state. They will receive over 300 million dollars to install pollution controls in their smokestacks (scrubbers). This is the equivalent of me getting a government grant to put a new exhaust pipe on my 1980 diesel Volkswagen. Ahh… ha! I’ll look into it.

Free at Last

After Math Series © Jim Korpi

I owe nothing. Sure, bills will come, but, as of this Thursday, the thousands of dollars I acrued in student loans were paid in full, with interest.
With that done, I’d like to suggest an improvement in the system and possibly an improvement on humanity. Let’s call it the Loan Payer’s Manifesto.
We preach of a land where all men are created equal. If by this our fore fathers meant we all are pumping blood through similar vein structures then I must agree. But having just paid off these loans and knowing others my age who are $40,000+ in school loan debt, I must say I feel as though I’m just now stepping up to the starting line of financial freedom with wrinkles forming, while I watch others hitting puberty and charging expenses to a parental credit line.
Our economy will in time be fueled by creativity, this I believe. Essentially we must move beyond our foundation of exploitation and move towards innovation. We’ve moved beyond the manufacturing base of the industrial revolution and now must be innovative, not in our dealings with machines, but in our dealings with each other. The nine-to-five desk job days are over. Face it. If they’re not over, they will be as soon as the world realizes that half those 8 hours are spent playing FarmVille on Facebook and gossiping about coworkers. There are exceptions.
Creativity takes risk, exploration and is anti-routine by nature. It can not flourish in a society that uses usury as a way of educating, and preparing, its populace. It’s a form of indentured servitude for those unable to buy out of the system.
I can’t recall how many times a friend has come to me and talked about their life’s financial predicament. They have thousands of dollars in “financial aid”, or loans. These loans have an interest rate similar to a mortgage, 6.8%. They have graduated. They are now expected to enter the uncertain world economy, be creative, and pay off their loans.
What happens is they take the most secure route they can find. They hold onto that for the next ten years so they can work down their debt. By then they’re 40 and have kids. Time to be creative and innovative is put off another year, and then another year…
What must happen is education should become less of a business model and more of a Socratic model focused on paideia, and most importantly not the shallow goals of becoming the perfect consumer.
The economic ideas of incentive are fraught with the unintended consequences we are seeing currently in a country unequipped to feed, shelter, educate and rule itself properly.