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It’s a NEW RECORD!

24 Oct

Okay, so we’re having “hard times”…

People ask me why I spend so much time helping families build affordable, sustainable ISBU homes, while they try to navigate the removal of mortgages and excessive utility bills from their household budgets.

The reason is obvious. The ship is sinking.

… but you wouldn’t know it by watching the Federal Government burn through taxpayer dollars as they wrap up the United States biggest spending year, EVER. I won’t mention that it’s also going to go down in history as the second biggest annual budget deficit EVER.

Now, more than ever, American families are building “affordable alternative homes” to combat the “perils and pitfalls” of a system that is falling in on itself.

I call these homes “Aah’s“! As in:

“Aahhhhhhh, what a relief!”

Yet, still… nobody is talking about this. I wonder why?

Here’s the facts (straight from the horse’s mouth):

I’ll paraphrase the Wall Street Journal: (italics are mine)

It’s pretty obvious to anyone with a pulse that… the Obama years have racked up the three largest deficits (both in absolute amounts and as a share of GDP) since Hitler still terrorized Europe. Some increase in deficits was inevitable given the recession, but to have deficits of nearly $1.3 trillion two years into a purported economic recovery simply hasn’t happened in modern U.S. history. Yet President Obama fiercely resisted even the token spending cuts for fiscal 2011 pressed by House Republicans earlier this year.”

The CBO (Congressional Budget Office) recently finished tallying the revenue and spending figures for fiscal 2011, which ended September 30th. 

I’ve yet to see anyone dancing in the street over the results.

The government had its best year ever, spending a cool $3.6 trillion.

That beat the $3.52 trillion posted in 2009, when the feds famously began their attempt to spend America back to prosperity.

So much for limiting spending and even… (gasp!) cutbacks.

The Wall Street Journal also reported today that:

“The table also shows how close the federal budget was to balance as recently as fiscal 2007, with a deficit as low as $161 billion, or 1.2% of GDP. Those are the numbers to point to the next time someone says that the Bush tax rates are the main cause of our current fiscal woes.

Under those same tax rates in 2007, the government raised $2.57 trillion in revenue but it spent only $2.73 trillion. Four years later, the government raised $265 billion less thanks to the tepid recovery, but it spent nearly $900 billion more thanks to the never-ending Washington stimulus.”

“HEY! What happened to all of those spending cuts that Congress squabbled over?”

A “spending cut” isn’t the same as a decrease in the actual amount of spending at all.

It’s simply a DECREASE in the growth rate of spending.

I saw it illustrated like this;

“…if spending during the previous year grew by 6% but only increased by 3% over the current year then that counts as a spending cut even though the actual amount of spending has INCREASED.

What we NEED to DECREASE the actual spending, not its derivative.

It takes a negative spending growth rate to define a TRUE decrease.

Perhaps this administration has trouble differentiating between a function and its derivative.”

I’ve always said that when it comes to MATH, Congress is clueless.

We have a CONGRESSIONAL SPENDING PROBLEM.

Contrary to the “popular misconception” – America’s TRILLION dollar deficits are not a function of the Wars or the Bush Tax Cuts.

The total cost of the Iraq war was $709 billion and was incurred over the years 2003 – 2010 (Source CBO).

Yes… the Tax Cuts were also in affect during this time. The deficits in the 2003 to 2007 years were in a manageable 400 to 200 billion dollar range (2007 Deficit was less than 200 Billion).

(Would that they STILL were…) Oy.

Why did deficits explode in 2008 to 2011?

FACT: It’s because Democrats took over Congress in 2008 and started spending money like water on stimulus programs.

A stimulus bill in 2008 of $814 billion dollars is still $100 billion greater than the cost of the Iraq War, no matter HOW you do the math. The difference is that Congress is using American Taxpayers like their own personal Credit card… and they’ve blown thru their limits, with impunity.

When American families are faced with the a “fiscal deficit” (i.e. financial hardship, unemployment, rampant inflation… pick one… or even ALL of them), they tighten their belts, cut their spending, limit (usually severely) future spending, and work hard to balance their budgets.

They have no other choice! It’s called “fiscal discipline”. The bank doesn’t care if you’re broke. They STILL demand that mortgage payment.

It is imperative that American families INSIST… no… DEMAND that the “empty suits” in Washington figure out what “discipline” means… and then… do the same thing that WE the People do.

Otherwise, THEY get to join the unemployed, ASAP.

Don’t Vote.

2 Nov

I repeat:

DO NOT VOTE.

Look, no one is paying you to participate.

There aren’t any “Voting Cops” that will come drag you out of your house if you don’t go stand in line at a polling place.

This isn’t China, or Russia, or even (gasp!) Canada! 😉

We don’t need your opinion! We’ll figure it all out, without you and your two cents.

I mean, hey…

We’re doing pretty good so far, right?

Everybody’s working.

Everyone has an affordable home and great, affordable utilities.

We all have great Health Care.

And the economy has never been stronger!

So… If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. That’s what Ronin always says…

Wait… um…

Okay, some stuff could be better, I suppose. But, if we just let things keep going, eventually, they’ll fix themselves, right? Or some really smart guy or even (gasp!) a girl… will come along and fix it for us.

Gawd knows, if you vote, you’re just gonna screw things up.

And then how would you feel? Huh?


So just sit there on your butt, like a bump on a stump, watching reruns on TV, and let someone else (who is obviously smarter and more enthusiastic than you about “things Democratic”) decide how you and your family are gonna live.

It’s okay. We don’t mind… It’s not like this is a republic, or anything…

Your one single, lonely, solitary vote couldn’t possibly make any difference anyway.

And it’s not like you’re all that smart, anyway. Heck, your kinfolk probably won’t even let you choose the brand of toilet paper they use…

Still sitting there?

GET OFF YOUR BUTT AND GO PULL A LEVER!

This has been brought to you by the letter “D” and “The Ronin Initiative”.

My apologies to Will Durst, whom I basically stole this post from. Okay, I didn’t steal it, I just did the Reader’s Digest Condensed Version thing to it…

Okay, I didn’t just hack his post, I said stuff. Important stuff. Sarcasm is important.

Don’t like it? Tough Noogies.  It’s my birthday tomorrow. I get to be sarcastic If I want to. Says Me.

If you want to read a good post… read his, in it’s entirety, here.

Remember: Vote or Die. Do it or I’m gonna send the Voting Cops to your house to kick your butt.

I know where you live. I trap IP addresses.

Muwahahah!

Image Credit to Daryll Cagle – Love his work!

You’re killing America!

25 Nov

Obama keeps talking about “fixing what ails America,” by building alternative power projects.

To seemingly prove it…

On April 11, 2009 DOE announced a whopping $38.5 Billion dollars in loan guarantees to “encourages the development of new energy technologies and is an important step in paving the way for clean energy projects.” All a start-up company has to do is fill out reams of paperwork and submit it along with their justification of why they need the money and their $75,000 non-refundable application fee.

Benjamins-main_Full

Let me repeat that last part: “… and their $75,000 non-refundable application fee.”

These projects include solar, wind, hydro, ethanol, and even algae fueled remedies. And, there are a lot of them out there. Some of them even make sense, but…

At the NSF (National Science Foundation) bio-energy research projects are being declined and disqualified right and left,  by Government-backed reviewers who throw crap on the progress, by using “verbal vinegar”  like this:

“To base the proposal on the theory that there will be a variety of low-value feed stocks available is, in the opinion of this reviewer and many other industry observers, a faulty premise. Biomass is cheap right now because no one wants it.

However, as demand increases, it will become more expensive. Further the laws of supply and demand mean that replacing a significant amount of gasoline with biofuels would drastically lower the demand for gas. This would, in turn, cause the price of gas to plunge, making biofuels less competitive.”

Bull! I could use that very same argument to reject the use of margarine, or ammunition, or even car tires. The same argument could be made to reject solar and wind energy research — or any alternative energy, for that matter — by trying to make the case that an overwhelming  public adoption of solar power or wind energy products would cause the price of coal to plunge… well… because that might make solar and wind energy less competitive!

Would too! I know it’s true, because I’ve even heard politicians say it!

And we all know that politicians NEVER lie. 😉

“Margarine is baaaad! We Must Stop This!”… before it makes COWS obsolete.

And heaven knows, the increase in American Horse Breeding may adversely impact the price of cars! It must be stopped! I don’t know about you, but I’m gonna start shooting horses, before civilization as we know it comes to an end…

mustang

Oh wait, the American Government already does that. It’s cheaper to manage “wild horse assets roaming the plains” in America, if you kill them first…

You think I’m kidding? I’m not. Say goodbye to the Majestic Wild Mustang, kids… They only place you’re gonna see them regularly is on Disney Cartoons. BLM actually kills wild horses, rather than provide for them. Don’t even get me started…

So why do reviewers say things like I just quoted?

Because they are paid to DISQUALIFY projects. First, that $75,000 dollar application fee is non-refundable, remember? Second, that way, those jug-headed politicians in Washington DC can claim that they’ve put help in the pipe, even if NOBODY can possibly qualify for it.

Oh, I almost forgot; It takes 15 months to find out that you’ve been cheated out of your $75 grand…

… if the half-wits in the “processing department” at the DOE can get the process streamlined down to 15 months, as “promised”.

BTW:

Here’s what independent reviewers with credentials in their field, said about that bio-energy project request;

Reviewer #A: “This is a well thought out proposal supported by a well qualified team.”

Reviewer#B: “This is a well written proposal with good technical foundation to carry out the project. Project team collectively has good qualification and sound experience to advance the scientific work in a professional manner.”

Reviewer #C: “The proposed plan is sound and improved results are likely with further research.”

So…

Stop buying margarine! Stop riding horses!  Stop building windmills! Stop shooting your firearms! Stop buying car tires! You’re killing America! You whiny un-patriotic, self-serving, greedy, capitalistic bastards! 🙂

Stay Tuned.

The Renaissance RoninOkay, you all know what’s going on with my family, so I’m not going  to beat you up with that…

If this blog has helped you, educated you, amused you, or even just made you shake your head and wonder why I’m not locked up in some room clad with rubber tiles…

Please know that this site has required a great deal of money, time and effort to develop & maintain. If it’s been useful to you at all, and you can afford to…  you can help my family and support this site by making a small donation by hitting that Paypal button up there on the right. Paypal is the BEST “secure” way to donate to any cause… like ours. This will help keep us alive while we try to remedy our own situation, and empower me to carry on writing, maintaining, providing countless hours of hard work, and including any updates or topics that you might suggest.

And… No anatomical impossibilities, huh? I’m not as young as I used to be…

Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

5 Nov

Greetings, Campers!

Okay, so I took a break from that plasma cutter.

A guy has to eat, you know! 🙂

My family needs a house. My family has no cash. My family has a plan… and it involves Shipping Containers, recycled steel, and a lot of hard work. Hey, that’s why they call it “sweat equity”!

Most readers of this blog know that after a hurricane and an insurance company wiped out our dreams of  “a life lived like regular people”, we started rebuilding.

Katrina Bites

And, our faithful readers know that our build is harder than most, because we have “complications.” My wife is seriously ill with cancer, and my son (who is 2 years old) isn’t big enough to swing a hammer yet.

I’m not going to bore you with all those details, because I’ve talked about them before. Suffice to say, we have our hands really full.

As we speak, I’m cutting “containers into boxes.” I’m helping a guy build a small “demented village”, out of damaged container segments. And, that’s work that will make a fella mighty hungry…

So, as I sit here watching the sweat rain down, for the 37th day in a row (or so it seems) …

I’m gathering my thoughts, while I gather up this sandwich, and stuff it into my face.

sandwichNote: Not the REAL sandwich. You think I’m crazy? This one’ll kill you!  😉

So… you read, while I eat, ‘kay? Try to ignore the chomping and slurping… my wife does… barely… 🙂

I was out reading on the ‘net a few days ago, and something I read made me think about a guy I’ve been corresponding with for a while.

A reader recently contacted me (we’ll call him “J”), and told me about a “Corten Cabin” he has… stashed up in the woods. It’s what some of us would call a “Bug – Out Box”.

Now, “J” contacted me, because his box looks just like my old blog header, except for his box is twice as long.

cropped-rr-banner-0509cYou remember… this one.

“J” has a 40′ High Cube Shipping Container sitting on cinder blocks, out in the middle of nowhere, that he uses for weekend fishing trips.

There’s a logging road for access, unmaintained for years… that’s passable when it’s not under mud, or frozen under snow drifts.

The story he told me of them towing that container into the woods was hilarious.

His father-in-law wasn’t laughing, however… It was HIS truck they blew up moving that box.

Know how much it costs to get a tow-truck back into 4wd country, to haul out a dodge pick-up? Go on, guess!

More than the truck is worth. Oy.

It reminded me of a box we moved years ago, that kept trying to drag us back down the hill, before we got to the top of it…

You know how people say that when they’re facing their death, their life flashes before their eyes? Well, on THAT day, it kept happening to us over and over again…

After a while, all we could do was hang on, and scream “Deja VU!” at the top of our lungs…

Sure, we sounded like frightened little girls! We were scared “you-know-what!”  🙂

Wait… this post is supposed to be about “J”.

While he goes up there on weekends in the summer, he’s thinking that “with the economy trying to kill itself”, his family may be forced to head there someday, to ride out whatever “chaos and storm” the “hard times to come” might bring…

Now, we’re all nervous. You can’t watch cable TV without some “expert” saying that it’s time America either “checked up, or packed it in.”

We’ve all heard “it.” You know, the “experts” touting their “fearmongering” crap… “All nations eventually fail. Yada, yada, yada…”

I suspect that this is in part due to Cable TV shows like “The Colony” that advocate forward thinking rolled into a nice tight ball, to form a dysfunctional view of what survival in our times may end up being like, if you’re a complete idiot…

colony

I’ve watched a few of these “disaster simulators”. You know, “here’s a look at what happens, when the “you-know-what” finally hits the fan”.

Everybody has a scenario. Everybody is sensationalizing our plummet to a grim capitalistic  death. Everybody is speculating… Everybody is plotting…

But  you know… we may not all get stranded with a rocket scientist, an electrical engineer, a mechanic, a nurse, a martial arts expert, and a doctor, yada… yada… yada…

We might get stranded by our “onesies.” So, we should understand what we’re doing, in case the cavalry doesn’t show up in time to make any repairs.

Or worse, we’ll inherit that drunk jerk up the street. You know the one…

… he’s always passed out on the lawn, none of his cars run (and he’s got eight of ’em), and he’s always getting his lights turned off. The cops are always at his house… and his wife is always at YOUR house, “borrowing” groceries. Yeah, they’re gonna be a lot of help… Oy.

It’s why I also advocate knowing how to safely use and maintain personal firearms. And tasers… lets not forget tasers…

Like  I was saying…  before I so rudely interrupted myself… “J” thinks that if the world goes to hell in a handbasket, he and his family (he’s married with 4 children aged from 3-9) might have to be up there in his “bass box” the winter time, and he reminds me that it’s REMOTE.

There are no neighbors. There is no store. Walmart ain’t got there yet…

There’s just your wife yelling at you because you forgot the big Sam’s Club carton of toilet paper!  “Ya Dumb Moron!!” 🙂

He’ll have whatever he hauls in with his small SUV, and that’s it. He doesn’t want to rely on propane, or any other type of “store-bought” fuel, simply because it might not be available.

There’s a neat little bass lake about 200 feet from his front porch.

basslake

He says you can spit into the pond, and catch a big, fat bass. (So, they won’t lack for protein.) Hence the name “Bass Box.” Paying attention? Huh?

The box isn’t anything to write home about, it’s just a big shipping container. Except for insulation and siding on the outside, it’s a regular box.

The box sits with the front face (40′) facing a few degrees of due south. It wasn’t “a solar plan”, it’s just the way the site worked out.

Actually, the “real” story goes like this:

They argued for three hours about where “the perfect spot” for the box was. Finally, his big brother said:

“@%$^#&#*!!! IT GOES RIGHT DAMN HERE!”

And then he punched “J” right in the eye. Voila! Problem solved. 🙂

He (and his brother – who is no longer available for “cabin help,” by the way…) applied a waterproof membrane on the exterior of the box. They used a rubberized roofing membrane that you spray on. ‘Cept, they used paint rollers, so it’s REALLY thick…

Why?  Well, because they found 2 barrels of it… “just laying around, that nobody wanted”.

I know, I know… Don’t ask, don’t tell…

After they’d added more “water seal” to the box, they firred it out with 2×6’s.  This created cavities, and those cavities received about 4″ of PolyIso foam into the cavities.

When I asked him where he got the PolyIso foam boards, he told me that they’d;

“… found/commandeered/discovered the material from a vacant industrial real estate listing they had. It was just laying there collecting dust”.

“Real Estate Plunder”. Okay, works for me…

Don’t worry “J”… we won’t hold “logistical left-turns” against you. We might, however, hold it against you that you’re a (gasp!) realtor!

Say… do you know a guy named “Clark?” Hmmm? 🙂

He put some siding scraps over the insulation that they found on “a dead building project”…

Hmmmm… I’m not sure if “J” is a recycler, or a felon. Note to self: “If getting stuff from “J”… always get a signed receipt.” 🙂

Anyway, as near as I can figure, he’s got about an r20-r30 wall system (depending on which PolyIso rigid foam product it is, it ranges from about r5 to r8 per inch). So, he can “almost” hold heat in, once he gets it there.

I say “almost” because he ran out of insulation at the top of the box, so the roof is uninsulated.

But, he’d been thinking about some kind of clerestory roof anyway to bring in more summer sun. Right now, “J” has a flat roof with a pair of vents on top, that are identical to the one depicted in my old blog header image.

Steel ShedObviously, we’re going to pay some attention to this.

First, I’ll sue him for patent infringement… 🙂

You know what? I miss that old blog header. I think I’ll do my “Lazarus act” and resurrect it.

Seriously, a cool SHED roof would add headroom, a cool space for a few sleeping lofts, some additional storage, and a good opportunity for vents and windows to help with air movement and heat gain.

Plus we can use that roof pitch to catch water, and get rid of snow.

“J’s” back is gonna hurt for a week or two, by the time we’re done. Boy, I bet “J” wished he’d never heard of me, NOW…

Picture “J” sad. Poor “J.”

That just leaves the floor.

Shipping container floors are treated with serious insecticides and fungicides to keep alien bugs out of foreign ports.

Wood preservatives containing a number of organochlorine insecticides, including aldrin (no, not BUZZ Aldrin!), dieldrin, chlordane and lindane, are just the beginnings of the treatment that floors receive.

Although I know people who’d like to stuff Buzz Aldrin into a container… Oy!

I ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS, rip these floors out.

You can’t EVER trust the shipper you got the container from. The labels denoting the presence of that toxin are often worn off, or even just missing. Because the containers are moved so often and with so many variables…  you can’t tell which ones got the toxic sprays just by looking.

Some containers escape without being sprayed or treated, but the only way to know for sure, is to take a sample of the floor out, and get it tested at a lab.

There’s are products that you can put on the floor to encapsulate them. That’ll seal the toxins in there, but they’ll still BE there. And, those products are expensive. We’ll go a different route.

Okay, all that accomplished, you’d have a “shelter”.

Inside, it’s spartan. It’s so bad that his wife won’t even go up there! Once you get through those big steel doors, you’re greeted by a few wooden shelves, a tiny wood stove, hammocks, and a blow-up mattress for a bed.

Did I forget to mention that they have a “shanty with a hole in the butt seat” kind of outhouse.

Oh yeah, they have an outhouse.

I bet he found THAT at a construction site, too… 🙂

He has a composting toilet, but it’s still in the box, in the garage. That’s kinda dumb… Lotta good it’s doing him, there! 🙂

Okay, he needs a bathroom, too.

And, he reminded me about 11 times that the box gets cold. So, we turn up the heat a bit.

He doesn’t want to try any “geothermal nonsense” (his words) because the container is already in place, and he couldn’t move it if he wanted to.

Actually, his exact words were;

“Ronin, don’t be giving me none of your Geothermal nonsense, I don’t like shovels, my friend…” 🙂

He doesn’t want to rely on solar panels, because he’s not a guy with a lot of money to set up a complete “off-grid” situation. The closest he’s come to that is a Harbor Freight photovoltaic set-up with a pair of small panels.

So, he has enough power for a laptop computer, a TV, and maybe a radio.

(I’m going to try and talk him into replacing that crap inverter, and adding a panel or two so that he can establish some kind of “real” electricity, for refrigeration and other necessities.)

With the world going digital, I wonder what TV signal he’d get? I’m thinking he uses a VCR or a DVD player… Remind me to check, okay?

He has a good water supply.

It’s a hand-pumped well that draws water from about 175 feet. If he wants a shower, he pumps water up into a black painted 55 gallon barrel on the roof of his container, and then gravity-feeds it to a showerhead.

This is great for one guy on a weekend, but it’s not gonna work for a “family in residence”. Nuh uh!

We need a solar powered pump, too.

BTW: The gray water from the shower, and doing the dishes goes out into the garden, that for now, only feeds the wild animals that live around his box.

That’s good, but we’ll do better.

They have a small swedish fireplace/stove combination installed, but they only use it for heat at night. It’s sitting on patio tiles as a hearth. So, it’s not exactly ideal. We’re gonna move the stove, and build it “into a better box”.

Again, it’s about managing resources. “J” says that he doesn’t want to use it during the day, if he doesn’t have to. Why? He hates chopping wood. HATES it! 🙂

The stove vents out the side of the box. Sort of… It’s a rather shaky connection.

So, we do some chimney repair, and then we use what I call “idiot solar” to help bump up the heat. But, we’ll use solar in a different way than “normal people” are used to.

Okay, I can see that there is a lot to do, but he needs to do it one weekend at a time.

And, he needs to do it in a way that maintains the security of the structure, so that he doesn’t end up with visitors he doesn’t want, or need, while he’s away…

So, over the next few posts in this series, we’re going to take that empty 40′ High Cube Shipping Container, and we’re going to turn it into a full blown cabin, complete with sleeping lofts, and enough interior to let it be used comfortably, for a long vacation in the woods.

It’s all about his family’s survival, if times get hard. And, it’s all about HIS survival, if his wife gets mad.

After all, out in the woods… nobody can hear you scream… Muuuuwahhahah!

We’re not just going to insulate that container top. We’re going to “weatherize” the box.

Weatherizing isn’t “turning off the heat and freezing in the dark”.

Try that with your wife sleeping next to you. I guarantee you that you’ll wake up, dead!

It’s all about using ‘stored’ energy (and less of it than you might think) combined with small resources to achieve the same level of comfort that you used to get from that McMansion of yours.

How do you accomplish this?

Well, first, you find all the “energy nasties” and you give them the boot. In this case, we’ll start with that leaky stove chimney, and work outward from there. Careful planning and attention to detail will have this family in a sustainable vacation home, in no time.

We’re also going to deal with indoor air quality.

Remember that the air quality is 2-5 times worse in your house, than the air outside it.   This is a small space, that may be inhabited by a family of six (or maybe even more, if that damned brother promises not to punch him in the eye again) , under rather severe conditions, and maybe for extended periods of time.

Beyond air quality, we need to pay close attention to energy use, moisture (and it’s movement… unless you LIKE mold and mildew), combustion zones, and ventilation.

Remember, condensation is a killer.

Areas in walls and roof cavities that stay moist, start to grow funky things that attack your lungs. YUCK!

Ice dams on roofs can contribute to this problem, too. So we’re going to pay close attention to that roof, it’s construction, and it’s pitch.

We’ll talk about fixing that stove vent/chimney, before you huff and puff… and burn your house down…

We’ll talk about designing, building, and attaching a roof to catch the sun and even a couple of kids.

We’ll talk about photovoltaic panels on the cheap, and an “in-wall solar heating” solution.

We’ll talk about building loft spaces into it, to get the kids up and out of your hair.

We’ll talk about a “hidden” Master bedroom.

We’ll talk about the floor of that shipping container, and what to do about it.

We’ll talk about a kitchen (with a refrigerator, and running water, and everything!) and even a real bathroom.

We’ll talk about catching water and setting up a graywater system.

And, we’ll talk about building storage.

We need to add some serious storage  into that shipping box, so that it can house all their crap, so that “J” doesn’t step on everything they own, in the middle of the night, when that damned bear is trying to beat down the door!

And we’re going to accomplish this, a goal at a time, a weekend at a time…

Why?

Because you “Show me a man who failed… and I’ll show you a man who didn’t have a good plan”.

We’re not just  going to meet his needs, we’re going to exceed his expectations.

Why? Well, because… I know his wife… and she’ll kill him! (gulp!)

Stay tuned.

The Renaissance Ronin

We’re here to help you… by killing your chances of success!

4 Nov

Ready… aim… fire!

Are DOE loan standard requirements actually shooting down good projects?

We’re a country in search of affordable, sustainable, and “environmentally friendly” fuel. Right?

Well, good luck getting it!

You see… once again, Big Government is there to jump in and lend a hand.

How? Well… apparently by making it nearly impossible to get it.

I’ve told you about “government analysts” that are basically “hired guns,” whose job it is… to shoot down viable energy projects. Seriously.

“We have money and you can’t get it… Na-na-na-na-na-nahhhhhh!”

But wait! There’s more…

In Washington, the US Department of Energy is requiring that renewable energy projects meet a debt rating standard higher than 63 percent of all US corporate first-time debt issuers since 2007, in order to qualify for DOE loan guarantees. The loan guarantees were originally designed “to encourage early commercial use in the United States of new or significantly improved technologies in energy projects.”

A ‘BB or higher’ rating requirement chokes bioenergy development, say bankers, attorneys, and project developers.

Okay… here’s the meat of the issue;

Congressional legislation for DOE loan guarantees typically require “a reasonable prospect of repayment of the principal and interest on the obligation by the borrower.”

The Department of Energy is generally left with the responsibility of interpreting “reasonable”.

In this case, the DOE, as advised by investment banks, has developed minimum threshold for loan guarantees of a “BB” or higher rating (prior to the guarantee).

According to Standard & Poor’s, 333 of all US corporate first-time debt issues since 2007 – out of a total of 528, failed to meet that standard.

In many cases, these issuers would not have been attempting to bring transformative technologies to market in support of  national policy – based on what EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said was designed to produce “green jobs, innovation and technology, and action on global climate change.”

Once again, it’s apparent that money has been placed into a non-existent pipe by Congress, so that they can make claims that they’re actually doing their jobs.

Is it any wonder that all the jobs are going to Malaysia?

According to David Jacob, Executive Managing Director and Head of Structures Finance Ratings for Standard & Poor, ratings for renewable energy projects range from BBB- to CCC, with a preponderance of ratings weighted towards CCC, or two ratings below the threshold set by the DOE. Jacob was speaking at a recent meeting on energy finance in New Jersey.

My personal thanks to the fine folks at  BioFuels Digest for bringing this to my attention, and for ruining my day…

Stay tuned.

The Renaissance Ronin

“I’m sorry – We’re Broke.”

1 Nov

I have been accused of being a “treehugger”around here, recently. Again…

I’m not sure why…  Sure, I write posts about saving energy. Because I have to pay for the energy I use! Well, duh!

I like CFL’s (Compact Fluorescent light bulbs). Why? Well,  because I don’t have to change them as often, and they save me money.

treehugger1

Sure, I write posts about being kind to the trees that give us WOOD, and oxygen, and shade… Why? Wood gives me an excuse to use POWER TOOLS!  Plus, if you water those trees, they give you SHADE! Shade saves energy, and gives me a place to hang the hammock!

I’m not a militant “tree-spiker”, and I don’t agree with a lot of the “treehugger agenda”. Or maybe it’s just the methods I don’t’ agree with. Saving a tree is never worth killing a human being over. And that’s what “tree-spikers” do. I know from first-hand experience.  If you kill a person over a tree, you’re NOT an “environmentalist…” You’re a MURDERER.

Terrorism is terrorism, no matter what “flag” you wrap it up in.

Nothing good can come of it.

But… people see shipping containers being cut up and reassembled into houses, and they immediately think “Eco-Whackjob.”

Look, I love trees. Truly! But my primary goal isn’t to clean up the earth, or save the environment, or even make sure that my kids breathe clean air right now.

WHAT? RONIN SAID WHAT?

As my wife slowly dies, as my two year old son starts venturing out into that great big world… my family is living in a hovel. It’s a horrid little box, that hasn’t had anything resembling “real maintenance” done to it, since about the Kennedy Administration.

It wasn’t always like this. We had a nice home, and it was almost paid for. We had a decent car, and we had money to pay the bills. Until…

A hurricane wiped it all out. Sure, we had insurance. But, you know what? The insurance company is pleading “bankruptcy” if they are forced to pay off all their claims. So, we’re part of 2,000 families in a class action lawsuit against them now, trying to get the “protection that we paid for.”

The facts are that they HAD the money.

But, the stockholders would’ve taken a huge hit (okay, an even bigger hit), and the fat-cats in charge would have seen their bonuses (and possibly even their jobs) diminish. So guess who gets screwed? Guess.

I’ve written extensive posts about all this before, you I’m not going to rehash it now. It just raises my blood pressure.

While all those environmental goals are noteworthy, and even applaudable, I just don’t have the means to change any of  circumstances that contribute to them. I have to leave that to you guys and gals.

What I am out to accomplish is getting my family back into a safe, secure, weather-resistant house, that we can afford to live in. One where we have the same basic needs covered that most of you have. And, we’d like to do it without a huge mortgage, huh? Is that too much to ask?

And if I manage to slay any environmental dragons along the way, well, that’s just a wonderful bonus.

From the feedback I’m getting, you’d certainly think that I might be asking too much…

I’ve groveled,  I’ve crawled, I’ve lobbied politicians, I’ve made speeches before “Capital cronies,” I’ve written “blood-covered” posts, and I’ve even begged, because my family is FAILING, but help is just not happening…

Some of you already know that we just got a shipment of damaged shipping containers, that we’re cannibalizing for fun and “experimentation.” Okay, three. We got three. It’s not like we got a container ship fulla boxes. Don’t I wish. I’d build houses  for families that needed them… until I dropped dead from exhaustion.

While I was out behind a warehouse recently, using a plasma cutter to dissect a Corten Cubicle, I had a guy walk over and get on my case about my “ambition.”

It seems that if you cut up a steel box and then live in it, you’re “putting carpenters out of work” in an already failing economy. Why, what you’re doing is downright “un-American!”

Exact words.

I had to laugh. Right in his face.

That just made him madder. For a minute I thought that he was looking for something to hit me with, but everything laying around was steel, and way too heavy for him to lift. So, he just rattled off a string of obscenities, shook his fists at me repeatedly, and then waddled off.

I guess he forgot that you have to put interiors into these boxes in order to make them livable, and then… you’ll probably put insulation and siding on the outside of them, to confuse the neighbors even further… I think carpenters do that, unless I’m mistaken. I’ve never seen any “Container Gnomes”, or anything like that… 🙂

If wanting a safe, affordable, sustainable house to live in is considered “Un-American”… then sign me up and send me a lifetime membership card.

Having had just about enough of his nonsense (and his threats), I calmly put down the plasma cutter (Remember, campers… always treat your tools with respect. Your neighbors? Well… um… er… it depends on what day it is…), and took off my goggles, and my wristwatch.

This was going to be just the “attitude adjustment “I needed. I hate taking “anti-stress and blood pressure medication.” But, I’m all pent up with frustration. What better outlet, than an idiot cursing my family ancestry? Hmmm?

But he didn’t possess enough “conviction” to actually put his butt behind his mouth. He literally ran away.

Now, I realize that I seem a little bit “up-patriotic” at times. I’m disenchanted with government. I’m tired of give-away programs that only benefit the elite, or fund projects that seem unlikely to succeed, while the rest of us suffer.

Bailing out Wall Street?

I’ve heard all the arguments. And now, I’ve seen everything go right back to the way it was… except the bonuses are even bigger. Why?

Bailing out the Car Companies?

Again, why? Not ALL companies started withering like grapes in a heatwave! Only the ones that refused to change with the times.

Cash for Clunkers?

Okay, some of us got new cars. (I didn’t.)

But, I’ll remind those of you who did that the REST of us are paying for them. Billions of dollars. So, when you go out into the driveway, to start up that new car you bought with your $4500 free bucks, remember that the rest of the taxpaying citizens of America helped put it in your driveway, and now we’re helping you pay for it.

Like it or not. I don’t remember voting for that one. Oy.

The Stimulus Package?

Sure, now hundreds of large US-based corporations can afford to outsource jobs to Malaysia, to build solar panels and other cool environmental stuff. And, it’s exactly what’s happening. I just read a report that several large companies here in the US are on a hiring binge in other countries, to build these products, now that they have government money to do it with. In fact, they may offer to move you to that country, if you want to keep your job. I hear India is nice this time of year. And, the  curry is good…

We just picked our own pockets until there was nothing left but lint. Am I really the only one who sees this?

Recently, I ran a post that talked about grants, and loans, and “money lost.”

I got a list of grants and banks, and “other” organizations helping American families to build homes. And, it wasn’t worth the paper that they printed it on. Should I be surprised? After all, I got it from a Government official.

And, I got pissed off, and wrote a post about it.

People emailed me like mad, telling me that I was crazy. After all, the Government is just giving money away, to anyone who wants it!

Yeah? Bull.

Apparently, they’re only giving it away to people OUTSIDE this country, who supported Presidential Campaigns.

Want yet another an example?

The Wall Street Journal (Yes… Ronin reads… I don’t just look at the pictures…) The Department of Energy just awarded $529 million to Finland…

FINLAND!

… for an $89,000 all-electric sports car, while US projects die, jobs languish, and American companies go bust.

The U.S. Government has offered a $529 million loan to FISKER,  an Al Gore-backed company making $89,000 all-electric sports cars in Finland, while US projects, and the resulting US jobs go unfunded.

Why are US projects unfunded? The Government says they don’t have the money to fund them… Whaaaa?

It might interest you to know that Fisker‘s top investors include Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, a veteran Silicon Valley venture-capital firm of which Gore is a “significant” partner.

Employees of KPCB have donated more than $2.2 million recently to political campaigns, mostly for Democrats, including President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan group that tracks campaign contributions.

A representative from the CRP added; “And that’s just the money that we can actually track.”

You wonder why I hate (okay… I don’t “hate” him, I just dislike him…a lot…) Al Gore?

Here’s yet ANOTHER reason. This backstabbing b@st@rd continues to rake in the cash, by using his “global warming platform” as an ATM.

There is a distinct difference between “Global Warming” and Climate Change. I totally, totally, totally…  believe in Climate Change… but “Global Warming?” Bah-Hooey! 😉

But, back to Al Gore… First, it was “Bad Science“. Hey, if nothing else, Al Gore IS the Paris Hilton of the Scientific Community… He’s stinking rich for no apparent good reason, he’s a “charismatic idiot,” he turns up every time he sees a press camera light go on… and he looks good on camera… sometimes.

Thousands of notable, credentialed scientists (including many who specialize in Climate Change Science) are now going on record to state that Gore pulled a fast one on EVERYBODY…

Then, it was “carbon credits.” Again, Gore‘s “Carbon Credit Trading Company” made millions of dollars.

Now FISKER is using Gore‘s contacts and political prowess as a “Hollywood backed media darling“, to bilk American taxpayers again, and again, and again.

Other car companies have gotten money recently. Hello? You know, GM, Ford, and Chrysler, for example. Even one of my favorites, TESLA,  got some cash, in the form of a loan.

Now, I’m okay with Tesla getting some cash. Tesla builds electric cars. Cool electric cars, I might add. Those idiots in Congress gave Tesla $465 million bucks, in the form of a loan. Okay, so Tesla has to pay it back… I’m okay with that. They actually build their cars here. So Americans get jobs and Americans want, and will get the cars they build.

But Fisker? Wait a minute!

The Silicon Valley-based Fisker said that the bulk of loan proceeds will go towards the development of a $40,000 family sedan.

That they haven’t even designed yet!

And if that’s true, why are they diverting a large portion of the funds to fuel yet another car, an “alleged” $90,000 electric car that nobody can afford except status seeking… um… er… Hollyweirdo’s and fatcats…. Oh… I get it… never mind! 😉

Wait a minute! you say… It’s a Silicon Valley corporation! That’s not  “alien.”

Um… where do Finnish cars get built?

So far… FINLAND.

So, how many American jobs will that money fund?

I’m Betting ZERO!

Fisker‘s Silicon Valley operation is just a glorified design center. It’s a place for the top 1% of their employees to hang their hats. So either Fisker plans on giving them HUGE pay raises, or that money is going overseas.

I read the data. The plant in America (Wilmington) that they’re talking about is hopelessly locked in turmoil. Moses couldn’t bring that plant on-line any time soon. The Union isn’t budging, and there are big troubles ahead…

But… employees of Fisker’s top investor, KPC&B, donated more than $2 million to the Obama presidential campaign, and customers who have pre-ordered the Fisker include… who else… Al Gore.

Wanna bet that his doesn’t come with an invoice?

The DOE denied that politics played a role in the decision.

abductions

Yeah, right. And yesterday I was abducted by aliens…

I’m thinking that if you spend about $4 million dollars on the right politician, you can get a hell of a loan… no matter where you live. But, I bet that the DOE will deny that, too…

But zero is still zero. Unless you count the millions of bucks that Finland (and Al Gore) just raked in.

For 1/10th of 1 percent of that money, I could have built homes for 15 small families. Okay, sure… it’s only 15 families, but it’s a START! It’s 15 families safe, dry, and warm in their 600+ square foot houses made of steel. And one of those kids could grow up to be President. But probably not… because growing up to be energy efficient, self-reliant, and socially  responsible… would probably disqualify them.

Somebody pass the Tylenol…

Stay tuned!

The Renaissance Ronin Look, if you like this blog, if it helps you plan your ISBU project, or even if you just enjoy watching me make an @$$ out of myself … hit the Paypal button up there (if you can afford to), and donate a few bucks to help us out. Look, if I didn’t REALLY need it, I wouldn’t ask. It’s humiliating, and it’s embarrassing. I just ran out of options. If we don’t help “ourselves,” no one will. Government isn’t going to do it. If something doesn’t happen REAL soon, my family will fail, and we don’t have a safety net. I write this blog, to help as many families as we possibly can, while we try to heal, ourselves. Thanks for reading!

Sometimes the Cavalry never comes…

27 Oct

Welcome back!

Now, before you start thinking; “Oh Man… that Ronin is on a tear again…” I’m going to ask you for a few minutes of your time, to read this post. I know how valuable your time is. I’m asking, because this is important.

Look, I know it sounds like I’m trying to become a “Political Activist…”

But that’s really not the case at all. Truly.

We’re living in a time… in an economy… that has changed the way “We the People” must do things, in order to insure that our families survive.

Congress isn’t going to save us. They talk… and they spend… but somehow, they manage to miss the mark on almost every target they supposedly focus their attention on. In fact, some would say that they are only making things worse.

That’s why I’ve brought forward some of my views on what’s happening in America, as I discuss the creation of alternatives to traditional housing…

Good, bad, or indifferent, I don’t have time to wait for the outcome… to determine who was “right or wrong.” My family needs help NOW.

Congress is completely insulated from the conditions that most of us are suffering from on a daily basis.

From their “Hallowed Sanctuary on the Hill” they make decisions with impunity, that affect each and every one of us, without EVER being subject to the circumstances they create. Remember, they’re wealthy, protected, and isolated for the most part, from the constituents who elected them.

It can’t be “just me.” I’ve already proven, for almost 200 articles/posts on this blog alone… that I’m not “all by myself” in this thought process.

If you’re reading this blog, I have to think that you are looking for answers, too. I don’t WANT you to feel like you’re alone in this.

In part, it’s why I have that Counter up there. It’s not “vanity.”

If it was vanity, I would have admitted defeat and quit, long ago. I know of many, many blogs that get that many views in a single day.

I want you to see that there are thousands of us, thinking in the same mind. This blog gets hundreds of views daily, from people just like you and I, from all over America and beyond… who are looking for a way to provide both ourselves and our families with safe, affordable homes, at a time in America’s history where they just don’t exist for most of us…

In the meantime, winter is coming, and we MUST house our families safely. My family cannot survive without a roof over it’s head. And neither can yours.

I’m bringing forward some of my “politics” so that you can see that it’s going to require a different way of thinking, a different course of action, to achieve our goals.

Because, Virginia… Sometime the Cavalry never comes.

I’m recycling, reclaiming, and even BEGGING for material (sometimes “on my knees”) because my family’s SURVIVAL is at stake.

I’m asking you to get involved.

If I’ve helped you, informed you, educated you, or just entertained you… consider donating a few bucks to the blog, to help us survive and build. Our family needs a home. Our situation is dire. And yes, I’m begging…

I’m not going to waste bandwidth plastering pictures up of my wife in her sickbed… or my little 2 year old son. I’ve written about the circumstances here, already. And… if  you’ve been reading the blog, you already know how cute he is. He’s our source of JOY.

The reason I try to keep this blog “humorous and light” is because if I can’t find something to laugh about, I’ll start crying. It’s my requirement for the ability to actually stop crying, that scares me…

If you’re building something, and you have scrap lumber or materials left over, find someone who needs them, and help THEM.

I talk about how we are helping other families build their homes. It’s not because I’m rich, or even because I can afford to… because frankly, I just can’t. It’s because I HAVE to, because I know what it feels like to live in fear. I cannot, will not let another family fail, because I stood idly by.

We don’t live in a housing tract, or even in a house. We live in a two room hovel, in a place where Landlord/Tenant law is devised to protect the property owners (because THEY pay taxes). We don’t drive an SUV or a big sedan… in fact, we don’t drive at all. The cars were sold long ago, to insure that my wife got the medical care she needed to survive. We don’t have a satellite dish, a widescreen TV, or even an iPod. We live – day to day.

My dreams aren’t about far off destinations or the next holiday. They are about whether or not we’ll be safe, the next day. I don’t have control over anything else. All I can do is try as hard as I can to influence the next 24 hours.

In fact, they aren’t even dreams, they’re nightmares.

“We’re” everywhere.

You probably know someone in your neighborhood, in your inner circle… who is going through what we’re going through.

If you’re talking to someone who needs help, even if it’s just understanding something, help THEM.

Even if it’s just to offer some kindness, do it. Strife and crisis isolates people, and they start feeling alone. That leads to feeling “lost…” a feeling I’m intimately acquainted with. FEAR is a wicked mistress…

Every single small step you take will lead toward helping a family.

And that will make all of us stronger.

And if you pray at night, please pray for us. We’re in “trouble deep,” and the water isn’t getting any shallower…

Ronin

The Renaissance Ronin

“I’m from the Government. I’m here to HELP you.”

23 Oct

Greetings Campers!

If you’ve been following along, you know that my family is trying to build a steel house, in a backasswards neighborhood.

I’m talking about using Shipping Containers and recycled Aircraft Hangars, to build homes for people who really need them. And, the goal is to do it affordably and sustainably.

Shipping Hangar HomeNo! Not ADAM’s house. but something like it…

It’s a long, pot-hole filled road, but we’re further from the start than we were yesterday, so all in all, it’s a good day.

Until you open your email.

As I sit here, my email box is getting flooded with email from politicians.

Yep, “POLITICIANS”.

im_from_the_government_im_here_to_help

It’s been going on for weeks, and I’m getting sick and tired of it.

They’re telling me about programs that I can sign up for, that will assist my family in building a home. They range from “government backed loans”, to grants for land, and  grants or long-term loans for building supplies. There are even grants that cover the costs incurred when you hire other people to help you build.

Oh Happy Day!” Right?

Wrong.

I’ve been raising hell about this for over a year. I’ve been using the Internet as a hammer, to try and beat some sense into those idiots in Washington D.C. who claim that they are “single-handedly saving America.”

Most of the email I’m getting (and it’s coming from aides, direct mail outfits, and morons… and not the “other morons…” the actual congressmen and representatives…) is just political double-speak, pointing me at programs that either don’t exist at all, are completely deadlocked by political bungling, or impossible to enroll and qualify for, by design.

Here’s an example:

I got a listing of banks and lending institutions that would write loans to people who qualified thru a “government program” allowing them to buy and build. It was a long list, with over 200 institutions on it.

I looked it over, and then like an idiot, started dialing.  I talked to what seemed like every banker in the South. And, I got the same story with each new opportunity.

“We have not made this kind of loan in the past 5 years. In fact, I can’t remember the last time we even processed an application. If you come into the bank, we’ll explain why you can’t apply.”

And those were the ones that seemed to take an interest in my questions.  The rest of them said that they had stopped supporting this kind of loan program decades ago.

They claim that they are understaffed and not equipped to deal with additional workloads created by these programs.

When I did find a bank willing to work with me on this kind of loan program, the guy on the other end told me not to get my hopes up. It seems that you can apply, but the USDA refuses to communicate with the banks.

The USDA? The US Department of Agriculture? I’m not trying to start “Old MacDonald’s Farm!” What the hell?

Keep reading…

I found out that there is a grant program that would help me build my house. But there was one catch. I needed a USDA guaranteed surety bond, for $25 million dollars.

$25 million dollars. Whaaaa? For a house?

I was confused as a mosquito at a convention of Bubba’s (trying to figure out who to bite first), but I figured; “Hey if the USDA wants to help me qualify for this program, I’m game…”

So, I contacted the USDA. Guess what? That’s right. The USDA doesn’t even have a program that gives surety bonds to citizens, much less to help them build residential property. They suggested that I call the SBA (Small Business Administration).

I sent the USDA guys a copy of the grant I was applying for. And I bet it won’t surprise you to find out that;

  • (a) they’d never heard of  it,
  • (b) wouldn’t possibly support it, and
  • (c) didn’t have the funds, even if they could. In their exact words… I was “S.O.L.”

I contacted SBA, to see if THEY had any programs I could use to leverage the building grants. Guess what? That’s right. More governmental BS. The guy told me that I’d need to pay $5,000, to get a business plan written, that would allow me to apply for their programs. Now, it wouldn’t ASSURE that I qualified, it would just increase my chances.

Three days later, I heard from a different SBA official, who informed me that they don’t even have “a product that will accomplish the tasks you are trying to complete.” When I asked him what the $5,000 business plan was for, he replied:

“It’ll increase your chances of qualifying for a program. You should do it.”

When I pointed out that he’d just told me there were NO programs that allowed me to do what I was trying to do, he hung up. When I called him back, I kept getting his voice mail.

So, I talked to someone else, who told me:

“We get points for every person we get to enlist in the Business Plan program.”

Our government at work. Oy. And we actually PAY these people to do this to us.

In all, I called, emailed, or mailed letters to all 200 institutions. You want to know what I got for my trouble? Lost days of work and a huge dent in my cell phone minutes. Beyond that, I got nada.

Where’s the The Golden Fleece Award, when you need it?

I’ve seen a lot of grant paperwork in the last year. So far, my personal favorite grant was announced in July.

It’s an $85 million grant “to support at least 50 early career researchers for five years at US academic institutions and DOE national laboratories.“

The US Government, in all their wisdom, won’t help citizens build decent homes for their families, no matter what they TELL you. But, they’ll give $1.7 million dollars per “researcher” or $340,000 per desk, per year.

But WAIT! There’s MORE!

These university positions are for “summer salary and expenses” only. Only some of these positions — for DOE National Labs — are full time. And if you’re a “full-timer”? Well, full-timers get $500,000 in funding, per person per year.

Okay, color me “googled…” I race off to “Salary.com.” And what do I find? Well, the average salary for an assistant professor in the United States is $62,654.

So, I reread the grant. It seems that “undefined” excess in the expenditures is for DOE Lab expenses. That’s $438,346 per person.

Let’s put this in perspective. This 50-person “sweetheart program” received more money than nuclear energy R&D, hydroelectric power development, solar power research, or fuel cell research.

What is wrong with these people?

Somebody pass me a Tylenol, please…

Stay tuned.

The Renaissance Ronin

Oops, they did it again… Or DID they?

22 Oct

“If America is healing… and everything is getting fixed…”

Then how come everything is still broken?

I mean, if I was a Nobel Prize Winning President (and in only 14 days, no less!), you’d think I’d have actually delivered on at least ONE promise.

Pick one. Your choice. ANY one…

Well? I’m still waiting…

After spending trillions of dollars that we didn’t even have…

Taxpaying Americans are still losing their jobs in record numbers.

So, we propped up the banks… Guess what? The money is G-O-N-E!

Those same taxpayers are still losing their homes in record number, too…

Before long, there will be a shortage of packing materials…

boy-in-box

Because we’ll all be living in cardboard boxes, or maybe even…

living-in-a-box… a “Versace-esque box” made outta Italian pressboard and veneer!

Talk about “high density!” Oy Freakin Vey!

And the majority of the banks aren’t releasing those foreclosed homes to “the sales stream…” either. They’re holding them “in inventory,” so that when the market rebounds, they’ll make billions in profit.

Thanks for saving our bacon… now bend over…

And winter is coming.

So, we’ll just help everyone  get more debt, by “helping” them into new car loans…Everybody loves a new car!

Nobody in America would say “NO!” to a new car, unless they were just plain stupid, or absolutely crazy. Right?

And, if you’re “crazy,” you probably shouldn’t be driving!

And buying new cars means building new cars.  It provides jobs. A lot of jobs… It does! 🙂

But as cool as that was… we just picked our own pockets again! “Cash for Clunkers” is a program underwritten by our  TAXES! Oy!

Like I said… we made sure that the banks had tons of cash. Literally TONS of cash.

pallet_1billion-dollars

Pallets of Benjamins stretching as far as the eye could see… But, are the banks writing loans? No. Why? Well, it seems that everyone in America is a bad risk. But, those bank officers get paid pretty well, I guarantee…

To make matters even worse, confidence among U.S. home builders slipped again in October, largely on the looming expiration of a big tax credit.

The National Association of Home Builders’ gauge of confidence in new-home sales fell for the first time in four months, slipping to 18 from 19 in September.

Wall Street expected the confidence gauge to rise to 20.

What’s that translate into? Even MORE construction job losses, that’s what it means!

Oh great… That’s just what we needed.

Hey, the upside is that jolly fat man with the big bag of presents is gonna have a lighter load this year. Hell, he might even be able to stuff it in the overhead bin, as a carry-on…  Oy.

Ho! Ho! Ho! Talk about a lot of coal in stockings! But, wait! Another bright side! Coal burns, and that means that… it’ll provide heat! 🙂

Okay, okay, I’ll stop… Maybe.

We all know that the sale of new homes has been driven by the $8,000 tax credit for first-time home buyers! They said that it was supposed to “stimulate” the economy.

Yeah, right. More like, to coax young “new” home-owners into joining the ranks for the “in-debted public” before the walls come crashing down…

Well, you better hurry up. Come and get your debt before you lose your chance to get that tax credit!

Come and get it… while it’s hot-t-t…

Hey, it worked for a while, home sales rose by 30% through August. But… all good things must come to an end. November, to be precise. That’s when the credit expires.

If you listen closely, the next time you go outside, you’ll hear it… That’s not the wind howling around your ears… It’s the home-builder groups wailing for an extension of the credit.

“It comes as no surprise that after trending upward from an historic low in January, the HMI’s [the group’s main index] positive momentum now appears to have stalled,” said Joe Robson, the NAHB’s chairman.

You see, the bottom is falling out. All three components in the Housing index slipped — and that’s the first time that’s happened since November 2008 when the recession was nearing its worst. The component that measures current sales conditions fell in October to 17 from 18 during September. The gauge of traffic of prospective buyers slipped to 14 from 17. The component measuring sales expectations over the next six months tumbled to 27 from 29.

“Congressional action to expand the tax credit and extend it for one year would provide a critically needed boost to the employment market and economy, generating nearly 350,000 jobs, $28.2 billion in wages, salaries and business income and $11.6 billion in additional tax revenues,” Mr. Robson said. “That’s an opportunity we can’t afford to pass up at this difficult time.”

Alas, it’s gonna probably fall on deaf ears, as Congress will be too busy… one again trying to quietly pass their annual pay raises. They figure that they’ve all earned it, after all the camera time they’ve been getting about Health Care Reform.

And, after all, it’s hard to make due, on their pitiful six-figure salaries…

In the meantime, the ending of the tax credit will scare away any buyers foolish enough to enter the market…

… and the trickle down will be felt all the way to Home Depot! After all, it’s the home builders who drive the lumber yard production, right?

The best part of this is that the Fed is talking about inflating the dollar, due to so many other countries treating it like toilet paper.

Simple economics: 101:

When you lower the interest rate, you have to inflate the value of the dollar, to bring it back up.

So lumber prices will go up! That’s gonna help get houses built, and sold! Yep! Good thinking! Now we can’t afford the materials, and the house price will skyrocket!

Boy, my local Realtor is gonna be one a sad lady… 😦

And the way things are going, taxes will rise and inflation will jump way, way  up. If you have a mortgage rate in the 5’s, you’ll be doing the happy dance in the street.

But don’t do it around here, or I’ll turn the hose on you, just out of spite… 🙂

This is starting to remind me of the “Jimmy Carter Era…”

But wait! It’s another chance to start a new program! And, Obama can appoint another Czar! Hop Dingitty Dawgie!

We’ve propped up Wall Street. We’ve bailed out the banks.  We’ve even gone into the “national car business…” Now…

We can have a “Cash for Stinkers! Home Rebirth and Subsidy Sale!”

All we have to do is bail out every home builder!

Yep, if you can swing a hammer, you can get a check!

But wait… there’s more!

We offer Ma and Pa Public and every other owner of an existing “older” home a bundle of Benjamins ($10,000) in cash to demolish that energy guzzling monster and replace it with a more energy miserly new home. And wait, if you act now…

We could give them a mortgage with zero percent down and zero percent interest…

… until they reach 65 years of age.

Why only 65, you ask? Well, because after they turn 65… we don’t care about them any longer! After all, if we DID, wouldn’t we have taken better case of Social Security and Medicare?  And, wouldn’t we have provided adequate cost of living raises?

Mr. Obama… What cost of living raise? …

What’s the end result? Um… Trillions more dollars of debt for our children to pay, a bunch of jobs, and a fuel efficient America…

… except for the emissions from those “gas-bags” in Washington…

But, it won’t happen. Why not? Well, Virginia…

The US Government does NOT want a larger supply of homes. The banks (that we propped up in the first place) already have a huge inventory to sell. What the government actually wants… is  higher housing prices to justify much larger mortgages!

Why? Um… well it’s because the government wants people to borrow huge amounts of money, so that banks create more money through lending! That is how they inflate the money supply.

I already explained that… right? Weren’t you paying attention? ARGH! I’m NOT writing these for my own health, you know! 🙂

Look here, if you don’t believe me…

camperbikeride2Well, there’s always my bike…

And they wonder why I’m trying to build a house out of recycled stuff and anything else I can find, without taking out a loan (that I probably couldn’t get anyway!!)…

Stay tuned.

The Renaissance RoninWait a minute… lots of unemployed construction workers. Lots of empty and  discarded ISBUs. Lot’s of vacant manufacturing buildings due to plant closures. Lots of material because nobody is building… Hmmm.. Maybe there is a way… Hey… a fella could build “Corten Cargo Container Condomimiums!”

Cheap, strong, durable, energy efficient and almost recession proof housing!

Now then, if someone was just smart enough to possess enough vision to actually  see the “merit” in it… 🙂

9.5% and climbing…

9 Jul

Most of you know that I’m stuck in Mississippi…

…trying to build a house out of reclaimed and recycled materials, to shelter my family. And, I’d like to do it, before “hurricane season” crashes down on us, once again. But… the politicians are standing between me, and my dream. It’s not like it’s impossible to do… It’s just impossible to “legislate.” OY.

And, while I’m doing this “running around in circles so I don’t just stop, take a deep breath, and go absolutely freakin postal in Jackson” thing… I’m helping some pals build THEIR Shipping Container homes.

Recently, while we were “toiling and planning and conspiring and consulting….” one of my pals got hammered by the evil fist of fate… lay-offs.

Now, this guy… We’ll call him “Pat…” now he’s the stuff America got built of. I’m talking about the REAL America, not that phony “Hollywood America” you see on TV. As a manager, when the lay-offs were announced, he actually went into his bosses office, and offered up his own job, if they’d just use his salary and benefits to keep the other workers employed. After all, they were “youngster’s with families.”

Needless to say, his bosses declined his offer. But, when is the last time you heard of somebody doing that, especially when they were going through the same tough times as everyone else? Hmmm?

So, more good workers hit the streets, looking for something that resembles hope, something that will feed their families, instead of the ridiculous crap that keeps filtering down on us like smog from Washington DC…

And “Pat?” He’s on the phone, on his own time, trying to find his crew new jobs with other companies, so they don’t end up on skid-row.

Meanwhile… all eyes look east, towards DC…

What’s it going to take for Americans to realize that they’ve been duped?

President Obama got himself elected on a pedestal of promises, and frankly, folks… it’s just not happening…

America has more debt now than ever before. Our great grandchildren will be paying the interest on the trillions of dollars that have been haphazardly thrown onto the bonfire.

I still suspect that all that cash got tossed on to make enough smoke to hide the real issues. After all, it’s hard to see clearly, when your eyes are burning.

Whatever happened to all those thousands of jobs that Obama was going to create? Well… they got created in Malaysia and the Far East. The billions and billions of dollars that got spent for “jobs” went to companies who manufacture “offshore,” because hiring Americans costs too much. Whaaaa?

For example;

The ‘stimulus’ promised a jobless peak of 8%; it’s now 9.5%.

And yesterday, we got the bad news… again…

In fact, the best thing that we can say about June jobs report is that “employment is usually a lagging economic indicator.” Yeah? Okay, if that’s true then shouldn’t that accentuate just how bad things are getting? The loss of 467,000 jobs for the month is one more sign that the economy still hasn’t hit the bottom despite months of lies, political aggrandizing, camera-whoring, and epic fiscal and monetary reflation.

Can you say “whirlpool of despair?”

The report was a pig, to be sure. And there’s no way to sweeten it up by adding a prom dress, either. Average hours worked per week dropped to 33, the lowest level in at least 40 years, maybe more.

I’m not exactly sure how much further back than that… Hey, I had pimples and Pink Floyd records, and I was playing with Hot Wheels at the time. Shut up! 🙂

Hey… shortened work weeks! Yippee! More time to play with the kids right? Nope. More time to listen to your significant other moan in despair, as the budget gets turned upside down, just like the mortgage. It’s not like it’s just YOU, right?

This means that millions of full-time workers are being “downgraded” to part-time, as businesses slash labor costs to maintain profit margins.

And, because people are working less, wages have fallen again this year. Factories are operating at only 65% capacity, while the overall jobless rate hit 9.5%, and it’s still climbing…

Throw in disgruntled workers who want their full-time jobs back, and the labor underutilization rate climbs faster than an F-18 hunting bogies! We’re talking double-digits, folks!

So, instead of just firing people, companies downgraded them to part-time, and stripped them of their benefits. It was either that, or; “Hit the bricks, bucko…  and go look for another job.”

Man, what a tough choice… Can you imagine what those numbers would have looked like, if those people had just hit the street? It’d be a tidal wave of unemployment, that would make our grandparents remember the breadlines.

The tragic thing is that existing hourly wages have dropped too. So, the companies are still making profit, but they’re spending less to get it, in some places. Greed has become pretty evident, as CEOs take huge salaries and compensation, as their employees start to hemorrage blood, trying to pay bills as their wages get “adjusted.”

The news is even worse for young people, with nearly one in four teenagers finding themselves unemployed. That’s just what we need, huh? More teenagers standing around idle, trying to figure out how to entertain themselves without any cash… Oy.

And, it get’s better! Remember that minimum wage hike that Congress scheduled? It bumps minimum wage up, from $6.55 to $7.25 on July 24th. You’d think this is GOOD news, right? Nope. It means that labor is going to cost small business more, so they’ll have to CUT BACK the number of employees they keep, to make it through the tough times that the economy is dealing out. Oy again!

Manufacturers aren’t exempt, either! Americans who make things and actually produce those goods we consume lost 223,000 more jobs last month. Almost a quarter of a million jobs LAST MONTH.

Asked about these job losses by the Associated Press, President Obama said Congress should pass his cap-and-tax on carbon energy because “If we’re weatherizing every building and home in America, if we are creating windmills and solar panels and biofuel facilities, that is a huge promising area not only for jobs here in the United States, but also for export growth.”

Bullsh@t! What a bunch of crap.

First, the President has no way on earth to monitor how many jobs “he created.” Only by audit have we discovered that most of the jobs now funded are in offshore factories. How’d they do that? Well, by noting that factories here laid off workers, or even shut down completely, but product still kept hitting the shelves. It had to come from SOMEWHERE, right?

Millions of Americans are unemployed. But, not all of those unemployed workers are capable of building windmill blades and solar panels (especially since most solar panels are built in the Far East, anyway). There aren’t enough plants producing windmill blades or solar panels in the US to bail out America’s unemployed. There would have to be one in every city in America to do that.

And, if there was, the price of goods would have to drop. Competition, remember?

And, that’d mean more cuts, to supply cheaper products. Talk about a “Catch-22!”

With manufacturing on its back, enacting a new energy tax to drive more jobs offshore… is just insanity. And, I’ll point out that I mean no offense to REAL insane people.

If you watch Cable, they keep saying that; “Of course, the economy can’t keep falling forever, and most forecasters still see a recovery starting this year.”

Yeah, what’re they basing that on? More false hope and promises that are starting to smell like lies?  The decline in manufacturing slowed last month and housing sales have picked up — and supposedly these are both positive indicators.

Whaaa? Not around here. In most of middle America, the opposite is true. And, almost all of those tax credits for buying a new home are aimed at the buyers buying “newly constructed” homes, which will only create a glut in the “pre-owned housing market.”

How do you buy a new home when you’re unemployed? Huh? Boy, renting is starting to look better and better all the time!

They keep saying that consumers are spending more. But the cost of living is going up daily.

Sure we’re spending more! You keep jacking up the prices, you @ssh@les!  We still have to eat! Our children’s tummies still grumble. They don’t understand “tightening the belts.” Oy, oy, oy…

The real question should be about “strong and sustained” employment expansion. If the “stimulus” were working as advertised, that would be stronger than “Mr. Clean,” or even the “Incredible Hulk,” huh?? After all, those idiots in DC have thrown trillions of dollars at the recession.

Let’s not forget about that famous $787 billion dollars that was supposed to yield $1.50 in growth for every $1 that was spent.

This almost trillion dollars (don’t forget about interest, as we had to borrow the money from “somewhere.”) followed the $168 billion dollars that George Jr. and “Queen of the Most High Wacko’s” Nancy Pelosi promised in February 2008 would prevent a recession. The jobless rate that month was 4.8%.

Did THAT work? No. So what did Obama do? Exactly the same thing. Throw good money after bad. Hey, it’s not like it was HIS money. After he leaves the White House, he gets a pension for life. It’s not like he’ll be out looking for a job at TGI Friday’s, or Walmart… He’ll just write a book, and make speeches, and get… even more money!

So where has the stimulus money actually gone? Most of this government spending has gone to transfer payments — Medicaid, jobless benefits and the like — that do nothing for jobs or growth.

Let me repeat that for the “reading impaired;”

…THAT DO NOTHING FOR JOBS OR GROWTH.

The spending that might create jobs — on roads, say — is dribbling out with typical government efficiency.

  • Hey, they’re building schools in places where schools are already standing empty.
  • They’re building libraries in places where people don’t live.
  • They’re building airport expansions in places where planes don’t land…
  • They’re building copshop’s multi-million dollar “indoor training facilities ‘ so they can hone their skills… in places where they only have three cops.
  • They’re buying local law enforcement agencies helicopters and airplanes, where they (a) don’t have pilots, and (b) don’t have airports to land them in.
  • And let’s not forget million dollar highspeed powerboats to interdict drug sales, for cops who live in landlocked counties.

They even bought a law enforcement agency with four cops (I’m serious) $287,000 worth of ammunition. Whaaaa? Those idiots never heard of reloading? Maybe they should make friends with those guys who have the “indoor training mecca” and start learning to save some of that ammo…

You think I’m kidding? Nope.

$287,000 worth of ammo… That’s a lot of 9mm… Like, about 2,500 cases (remember, they get a discount for volume)… Lemme see… 1,000 rounds to a case times 2500 cases, divided by 4 cops. That’s like 70 rounds an hour, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, just to use it all up. Yeah, that’s doable… I hope they’ve got donuts and coffee stockpiled too!

Can you imagine a mountain of empty brass that big? Man.. I wish! 🙂

Meanwhile, the money for all of this has to come from somewhere, and Democrats are already saying it will require big (unstimulating) tax increases in 2011, and perhaps sooner. Whhaaa? I’m shocked.

So, while they’re giving away money they don’t even have, they’re going to ask us for money we can barely keep, to keep them in lobbyists and frosty cold beverages, while WE sweat the hard stuff all by our onesies! Oy Freakin Vey!

The Administration argues that the recession would be worse without the stimulus. Yeah, prove it! Oh yeah… you can’t. It’s impossible to prove or even disprove.

However, if you harken back to a time not long ago… Obama’s economist lackeys predicted late last year that the stimulus would keep the jobless rate from exceeding 8%. And now, it’s just climbed past 9.5% and it’s still climbing…

Uh-oh… Time to find a scapegoat to sacrifice on “The Alter of American Ineptness!”

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that it’s far more likely that America would have been better off without all that insane spending, and the higher taxes and debt financing that they bring right along with them, like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in a picnic basket!

I hate to say I told you so, but;

“You bastards in DC are all a bunch of freakin morons! You’ve sold us lock stock and barrel to the Chinese, and anybody else stupid enough to loan us money. We’ll be lucky if our grandchildren still speak English as a first language, before all this madness is through!”

Whew… Glad I got that off my chest.

I can’t wait to see what Congress brainstorms next… Perhaps they’ll just sell our children into slavery, or legislate sweatshops in America, so that the citizens they betrayed can still find a few pennies at the end of the day to eat with.

The best thing Mr. Obama could do to create jobs would be to come clean, admit his cabinet is filled with idiots, and start over. That is, if they’re anything left to rebuild, by the time he’s “done” rebuilding.

Gawd Save us… because Obama won’t. Not if his “progress report” so far is any indication.

Now, where’d I put those MRE’s? I think a storm is coming… and I’m not talking about a “hurricane.”

And “Pat…” I’m proud to know you. You’ve got a backbone of steel, and a heart of gold… You just made “Ronin’s Hero of the Day” list…

Now, if the President would just show that much courage, integrity, and backbone… maybe I’d get some sleep.

Stay tuned…