Friday, December 31, 2010

Too Generous Pensions to Cause Troubles Ahead

Long-time mayor the late Clyde Fant used to lecture the state legislature for approving benefits for local employees while refusing to provide money to cover them.  Many cities are finding themselves in untenable financial binds, unable to pay pension benefits they have promised.  In many cases labor unions lobbied for and got pension plans that included early retirement and generous pensions.  Some cities are calling on their states to cover the shortfall but they are finding the states have over committed to pay pensions to their workers.  Who is left?    Not the federal government. Only the burdened taxpayer, who must work much longer and for a smaller pension.  Look for some real battles between unions and governments in 2011.

Looking Back Through 2011 and Ahead to 2011.

When I was editing a weekly newspaper, at the end of the year I would review 52 issues and summarize the most important happenings of the year.  This blog started a year ago,  giving  the opportunity to read the entries and reflect on the events of the past l2 months.  As always there was good and bad.  Our family lost members, relatives and friends.  This was to be expected as our generation gets older.  The generation that follows me already numbers several in their seventies and more in their sixties.   Time waits for no man, but we can still look forward to a better  20ll.  

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A Christmas Tree of Thorns

Christmas is past but the tree with its lights and dozens of a variety of ornaments continues to provide pleasure and will until it comes down after New Years.  Why is it fun to put up the  tree and decorate it but it is work to remove the ornaments and take the tree down? Thinking about Christmas decorations brings to mind   how hard during the depression people would look for ways to  show the holiday spirit.

During the Christmas season a girl brought to our seventh grade room a tree she had made.  It consisted of a limb off a thorn tree sprayed with silver paint and ornamented with a gum drop on every thorn.  We came in from  lunch  one day and found the tree had lost some its gum drops.  The teacher,  Oren Trout, flew into a rage.  He demanded the miscreants confess, and when no one responded he demanded that everyone make a list naming every person  that had stolen a gum drop.  I had not seen anyone so the paper I handed in was blank. Not so was some of the papers and as he read names off my name was called several times.  His anger abated somewhat, he invited all who claimed innocence to make their case.  Students who did not defend themselves faced punishment.  I no longer remember what that involved but he loved to use a paddle so I was happy to be accepted as innocent.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Baby, It's Cold Outside -- No, It's Man-made Global Warming

Winter has officially just begun but blizzards, plane and train cancelations and delays, highway pile-ups, and worst of all to some re-scheduling of a football game are making people unhappy in the United States, Europe, and much of the world.  It us becoming more and more difficult for the  global warming salesmen to convince an individual standing in two fee of snow in sub-zero weather that his discomfort is caused by global warming and that warming is man made.  The Al Gore disciples made this argument l2 months ago and continue to promote it.  Their goal is to  slow down production in industrialized nations, as exemplified by their cap and trade mantra. We had to listen to this same  bull the first cold spell we had a year ago.  I hope, and am beginning to think, people are beginning to ignore these climate changers

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas Everyone

May your joys be many and lasting and your sorrows be few and fleeting.

One year has passed since my daughter set up this blog.  I did not know if I would  take advantage of it and if so whether it would be like a diary or a commentary on current events.  As it has developed, it has been a little of  everything, from remembrances of  my time on the USS Pickens in World War II, to stories of events in my childhood, to sometimes bitter comments on government policies.  What has brought me the most pleasure has been hearing from former shipmates and  family members of  Pickens shipmates. What direction this blog will take in the coming year is unimportant, only that I continue it in some way as long as I am able.

Friday, December 24, 2010

A Very Sad and Personal Message Today

Evelyn Cox Lowe died at l:40 this morning.  Today, Christmas Eve, would have been the wedding anniversary of  Evelyn and her late husband, Terrel, who died four years ago. Terrel, my cousin, was like a brother. He was about four months younger than I, and we spent a lot of time together.  He had retired as a Methodist minister but came out of retirement to pastor some small churches.  He and Evelyn managed the Methodist church camp on Caney Lake and earned commendations for their assistance to persons dislocated by Katrina. Evelyn was one of the finest individuals I have ever known and I felt about her as I did my sisters.

Before Air Conditioning Became Automatic in Cars

When cars first came out with air conditioning, I was convinced that I would  never   be such a softy that I would resort to such a luxury; of course it wasn't long until I didn't see how I could exist without it.

For a few years most cars on the road were manufactured before air conditioning was even an option. My landlady had a green Oldsmobile 98 in excellent condition, with low mileage, and without air.  When she went to the wedding of her son to a girl in Texas, she saw everyone driving with windows closed because they had air.
Rather than let  people know her car was not air conditioned, she chose to keep her windows closed and suffer  the heat.

Even though I bought a house (which I rented) she was my landlady all the years I spent in Homer, and she and her family became like family to me.  I was a pall bearer for her husband and her son.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Choir Performance Sunday Was Early Christmas Gift

Music this Advent season has been exceptional, and especially so this past Sunday.  Special music by the choir was "God Bless Us Everyone," with four horns, a drum and Margaret Jones as soloist. The standing ovation was certainly deserved. 

I am looking forward to the Christmas Eve traditional service at 5 and the contemporary service at 11.   
How many people, I wonder, attended  Christmas programs at schools and did not hear one truly Christmas carol.  The ACLU has frightened school officials into believing they must eliminate every bit of Christianity from their school.  The supreme court has not ruled that.  Some of the world's greatest art and music as influenced by religion. Must we eliminate Handel:' Messiah and Michaelangelo's Last Supper from our children's lives?

Happy Birthday, JereLyn and Julie

With five girls and three boys, it is not unusual for a birthday to fall on a holiday.  The oldest girl, and oldest of the eight children, was born on Halloween and was subjected to a lot of teasing. The youngest brother was born on Valentine's Day and the next to youngest girl  entered this world on Christmas Eve. So to her I am wishing Happy Birthday along with Merry Christmas.

And today,  December 23, is my daughter-in-law's birthday.  Happy birthday, Julie.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Mistaken Policy by any Name Would Smell as Bad

It became difficult to continue selling "Global Warming"  to people battling snow and ice so  Al Gore and others like him began warning of  "Climate Change."  One goal continued to be redistribution of wealth.  In the United States part of the effort has been to push "green energy," with billions being expended and wasted on ethanol, wind, and solar energy while discouraging development of our large oil and gas reserves. Now we are being subjected to another name change, "Environmental Justice." That leaves us who want a sensible energy policy, one that strengthens, not damages, our economy,  as being against a healthy environment and opposed to justice.
Name it what they will, the policy stinks.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Bill to Avoid Big Tax Hike Sent to President

I have been trying to avoid political commentary for the remainder of 2010.  Let's enjoy the holiday season as best we can, although that is had to do for those many millions who are out of work.  Perhaps, those corporation which are loaded with capital may be encouraged to add employees now that they know taxes will not go up for two years.  I would have preferred a cleaner bill, one that merely extended the Bush tax cuts, but there is always some give.  Next Congress must begin to cut spending and reduce the national debt while maintaining on some level all necessary programs. 

Christmas Sneaks Up on Us

No other holiday does it. Sneaks up on you like Christmas does.  Take Thanksgiving.  It comes every fourth Thursday in November. And what do you have to do to get ready for it?  Cook a turkey and/or ham, some sweet potatoes and cranberries. Think about our most patriotic day -- Fourth of July.  No one starts counting the days until the Fourth and gets stressed out.   Look at Easter, the holiest of all days to Christians. It may come very early in spring or days later, but it always follows Good Friday and is a happy day, always welcome, and it does not sneak up.  But Christmas, one day it is weeks away and then you wake up one morning and what has happened, Christmas is only a week away.  Yes, Christmas sneaks up on you.

At least I've finished addressing and mailing Christmas cards.  You realize that Christmas card lists are either short or long, never medium length.  There are names that must be sent a card, and then there are many more names that could be included, but if you add one or two of those then there are more in that same category; Some people solve this by sending no cards or by posting a message by e-mail or face book.  There was a time when people stayed in touch by exchanging letters.  That was important to historians who get excited when a collection of letters written during the Civil War or World War II is discovered.  The telephone replaced letters and the internet is the preferred vehicle now.  I agree that in some cases it is practical and quick.  One member of a family can instantaneously  inform other members of changes, good or bad.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Ramdom Thoughts This Saturday Morning

               Thankful for Good Night After Heart Spells Yesterday
Chest pains hit me twice yesterday afternoon.  First time was when I tried to close a garage door that should  have been replaced long ago.  A couple hours later I was bringing in groceries when I had a real severe attack.  I took some nitro, sat quietly, and the pain finally eased.  I hate that I can't even pick up anything just a little heavy without triggering pain.  As my cardiologist says, my mind wants to do things by my body says no.  I'll just have to adjust
               Delicious Irony.  Global Warmers Get Cold Weather in Cancun
Cancun gets coldest weather in 100 years as the city hosts the UN conference on man-made climate change.
The goal of this group is wealth redistribution, following the discredited plan of Al Gore and members of the Obama administration.  Cap and Trade with Pelosi leading the way passed the House several months ago, but with unemployment high and the economy hurting, the Senate has no stomach to vote for it. President Obama's expressed goal of destroying the coal industry and increasing utility costs for everyone will have to wait awhile.                                                -0-

               In Trouble For Spending, Spending and Spending 
Cuba will be insolvent in two to three years; Greece and Ireland rescued by European Union: Portugal in financial trouble; Spain could follow, and what about our United States?  What do all these nations have in common?  They spend money they do not have.  No, their problems are not because they don't tax enough; it's because they spend recklessly and have to borrow and print money.  This leads to low growth rates and high unemployment, which in turn reduces revenues which leads to borrowing and printing money, and on and on.  This nation's leaders cannot benefit from other's mistakes.  For instance, one reason for Portugal;s troubles is the decision to try to "go green," which increased the cost of energy.  Paying attention, Congress?
                 Less Drilling -- Oil and Gasoline Prices Escalate     
Oil is approaching $100 a barrel and gasoline is around $3.00 at the pump.  What did you expect?  The Gulf has been producing 30 per cent of the oil produced in the United States.  The moratorium on drilling in the gulf has been lifted, officially, but not effectively.  What additional restrictions will be placed on drilling? Who knows. Companies cannot commit exploration when they do not know the requirements. Expensive equipment lies idle and workers continue to be out of work.  You know what Washington in all its collective wisdom says  -- we'll just import more oil, with more money leaving the United States and Americans paying more at the pump.  Every time you buy gas, tip your hat and say, :"Thank you, Mr. Obama."


Friday, December 10, 2010

Show Courage In Dealing With Iran and Venezuela

Our economy is in shambles; we all know it and desire leadership that we are not getting, but our greatest danger may be in our weak and befuddled foreign policy.  After two years of portraying the United States as weak, President Obama has the United States in danger from several fronts.  North Korea has helped Iran and Syria put into place atomic weapons that threaten Western Europe.  Now Iran has agreed to place intermediate range missiles in Venezuela that would reach the United States.  We call on Obama to show some courage; the time for bowing is past..  Let it be known, and forcibly, that this nation will not allow this.  We refuse to be threatened or blackmailed, and we will strike and strike hard if Iran and Venezuela begin to carry this out.  Let's have courage from the White House for a change.

Why Does Washington Screw Everything Up?

Last Sunday, December 5, we began a new quarter of Sunday School lessons.  The writer mentioned that at the time he was writing, the national unemployment rate was dominating the headlines  and was at nearly ten per cent.  There is a lead time of about one year  on the lessons, which reminds us how long and persistent high unemployment and a poor economy have been hurting this nation.  Bringing this closer was the writer's revelation that he had lost his job to downsizing.  Most people have a relative, a close friend, or a neighbor who is out of work and searching for a job.  Washington has made conditions worse with its stimulus boondoggle  and a flawed health plan.  Thank  heavens the cap and trade program the Obama administration pushed so hard for has died, at least for now.  That would have been the third strike and out for our economy.

As I write this Congress has not yet voted on whether taxes will go up January l or stay the same.  Everyone agrees that increasing taxes during a bad economy would be disastrous, yet Congress cannot take a simple action.  Everything has to be complicated and screwed up.  We should extend the Bush tax cuts and not add any more spending.  The president and Congress are loading down what should be a clean bill with all types of spending, including more subsidies for ethanol, solar and wind.  Damn it, we should be producing more coal, oil and natural gas and stop importing energy. Let so-called green energy sources compete. Forty per cent of all corn grown in this country is made into ethanol, an inefficient way to produce energy.  Wind and solar should not be subsidized, and there should be no incentives to buy certain cars or appliances.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Could I Have Killed the Officer Who Mistreated Me?

"Seaman First Class Roy E. Lowe lay up to the quarterdeck on the double."  When that came over the public address systems I was in the chow line early so that I could relieve the radarman who was on watch from 4 to 8  To say that I was startled, shocked, even a bit terrified, is an understatement. I could not imagine why I was being ordered to report.

We had commissioned the USS Pickens a few days ago but all crew members had duties to perform to get the ship ready for its shakedown cruise.  We radarmen, in addition to other work, mounted a 24-hour armed guard on the radar shack while the highly secret equipment was being installed.  Armed with a 45-caliber pistol strapped to the waist, we were instructed to "draw the gun only if you are going to shoot and shoot only to kill."  I had read the watch list and knew that my next watch was from 8 to 12, thus me being in the early chow line.

As ordered I laid up to the quarterdeck where the officer of the deck laid into me for failing to be on watch from 4 to 8.  He didn't give me an opportunity to explain, instead blasting me with profanity.  While he cursed me the captain arrived and waited for the appropriate ceremony to welcome him on board.  I tried to call attention, but the officer was enjoying cursing me out too much and missed the captain's arrival. The captain gave up waiting to be recognized and disgustingly came on board.  The officer blamed me and started another round of profanity, saying I should be "hung from the yard arm."                                                                    

I  was crying by this time and just walked away and reported to the radar shack.  When I buckled on the gun I started back down the ladder and said   '"I'm going to kill that ****. The other radarman laughed and said he isn't worth it.   I've often wondered if I was capable of killing someone if I felt unjustly treated like I was then.

Japan Attacks Pearl Harbor 69 Years Ago Today, Dec. 7

Most people who were alive 69 years ago remember where they were and what they were doing when they learned of Japan's sneak attack on Pearl Harbor and the US Navy ships anchored there.  I remember the next day, Monday, at school where we listened to Congress declare war on Japan.  Americans did not know how much danger we were in of an invasion.  Naval victories at Coral Sea and especially at Midway sank or heavily damaged several of Japan's aircraft carriers, putting that nation on the  defensive.  America had a long and costly fight ahead but we had taken the offensive and kept it until final victory.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Obama and Congress Don't Give a Damn About Us

Oh, yeah, they can moan and wring their hands but all they do is talk and live it up while millions of people who want real jobs are ignored.  A kid in a commercial geography class understands that to build national wealth and create jobs the country must produce products that someone will buy.  Wealth comes from agriculture, mining (coal, oil and gas and minerals) and manufacturing.  Innovation and trade can add to the profitability of all of these basic ways of creating wealth. Where are we mostly lacking?  In manufacturing, of course, where the trend of moving plants off shore has continued.  Wal-Mart  buys only six per cent of its goods from United States companies.  Think about it; if that one company bought goods made in the United States, hundreds of thousands of jobs would be created.  Where we do excel, Obama administration penalizes instead of encouraging.  The moratorium on drilling in the gulf has been lifted but permits are not given so rigs sit idle and thousands are not working.  We should produce enough oil and gas to make this country sufficient and have oil to export.  It is sad but true; our leaders are unwilling or incompetent to govern, and only they and those working for the government prosper.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Job I Did Not Want And the One I Turned Down

With unemployment high and persistent, many out-of-work individuals have found themselves applying for and accepting jobs they once would never have considered.  Any job is better than being out of work, although I found myself once applying for a job while hoping I would not be hired.

It was the summer between my sophomore and junior years at LSU; that would be 1948 I think, a long time ago.  My dad and brother had planted several acres of cotton for me, and I would keep it cultivated. I chopped it, plowed it, and hoed it and later picked it.  This did not keep me totally occupied so my brother, Jesse, and I would leave early in the morning, walk to the Cotton Valley road, and hitch hike to Springhill.  There we would  join a group, mostly men from 18 to the 20's, at International Paper Co. and apply for a summer job.  After not being hired, we would hitch hike back home and go to work on the farm  We were fortunate most mornings to catch rides to the paper mill, but on the way back we often had to take rides that went only a few miles, forcing us to hitch hike again. Once a ride dropped us off where a flooring mill was nearby.  The mill sawed hardwoods, mostly oaks, into wide planks and then sawed the planks into narrow and short pieces which were then planed, the finished product being high quality flooring.  If you have never been to a sawmill, you cannot imagine the screeching, screaming noise that assaults the eardrums.  The manager and owner said he could not use any more workers at present, and I was glad that I didn't have to make a choice, refuse the job or suffer the hard work and noise.  A friend, Perry Mullen of Garan, used to tell community leaders that thereremained  two jobs that were hard  work-- working at a sawmill and at a cut-and-sew plant..  It wasn't in my nature to turn down a job but I was to do just that.

A week or two later I was called into the offices of the paper mill.  There I was offered a permanent job, with no limit on how high I might go  in the company.  They asked me to commit to the job and not plan on returning to college.  I thought about it but regretfully turned it down; I had begun college and wanted to finigh what I had started.   By the way, my starting salary was to be $80 a week. Not much, you say, but a year and a half  later, armed with a degree in journalism, I went to work at  a newspaper for a starting salary of $50 a week.

That summer of 1948 I was also a member of the 52-20 club. A provision of the GI Bill was that vets could get up to 52 weeks of unemployment pay while seeking a job.  Once a week I would hitch hike to Minden, visit the unemployment office, ask if any jobs were available, and leave with a $20 check.The next summer I stayed in school in order to finish at mid-term and go to work.