Friday, July 31, 2009

The Album Is Released!

The new Covenant album is out!

And it's good!

Give it a listen at the Covenant MySpace page, and then hop over to the Sillimon Sound webpage to buy! You'll be able to buy it on iTunes soon (not sure when yet).

Great music and great singers ;-)

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Sounds Familiar

President Obama, in his weekly radio address on Saturday, referenced a new White House study indicating that small businesses pay far more per employee for health insurance than big companies. The disparity, he said, is "unsustainable--it's unacceptable."

First, I would point our esteemed President to any reasonable dictionary, and ask that he look up "economies of scale". had this to say:

The increase in efficiency of production as the number of goods being produced increases. Typically, a company that achieves economies of scale lowers the average cost per unit through increased production since fixed costs are shared over an increased number of goods.

It stands to reason that a company who is providing health insurance for 5,000 employees would pay less per employee than a company insuring 30 employees; the administrative cost per employee is much less for the larger company, and there's much lower average risk per employee with the larger group than there is with the smaller group.

So, of course the big company get's a better rate.

From Obama's Saturday radio address next week:

"My fellow Americans: I found out today that Wal-Mart and Costco get tires cheaper on a per tire basis than does your local mom-and-pop tire shop. That's unsustainable--and it's unacceptable! I pledge to force Wal-Mart and Costco to pay an extra fee for each and every tire they purchase, in order to subsidize your local mom-and-pop tire shop's purchases just to make it fair."

I'm reading a story about a guy who became famous preaching a similar message to his countrymen. He rose from nothing (like Mr. Obama), and lead something of a grassroots effort (again, like Mr. Obama), crying out loudly and eloquently for "change" (like--you got it--Mr. Obama). And he ultimately won power by demonizing the industrialists in his country, the "big businesses" who had "unfair advantages" over the little guy.

His name was Adolf Hitler.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday to you;
Happy Birthday to you;
Happy Birthday dear Alexis;
Happy Birthday to you!

Happy 8th birthday Lex!
I love you deeply!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Consumption Smoothing

I was listening to a personal finance podcast the other day and the host, who was talking about funding retirement, mentioned a new strategy. He called it "Lifetime Consumption Smoothing". Sounded interesting.

Basically, the idea is that most people reach their peak earning potential in their 30's, 40's and 50's. Unfortunately, though, that's also when their consumption peaks. They spend the most during this period of their lives as well.

The host was advocating "smoothing" this consumption out over one's lifetime. That is, while you're earning oodles of cash in your 30's, don't spend it all; rather, put some away for when you're old and don't have the same earning potential.

It sounds suspiciously like a rebranded version of my grandfather's "save your money, son, for when you're my age" plan.

But a solid plan, nonetheless. Shawna and I have bought into it.

We're eating canned cat food once a week now.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Palin: The Last Republican Standing?

USA Today reported yesterday that, according to a new nationwide USA Today/Gallup poll, Sarah Palin's approval ratings have improved since her surprise announcement last Friday that she'll step down from the Alaska Governor's office on July 26.

Her move, she said, would allow her home state of Alaska to progress further than it would with her at the helm (in the face of the overwhelming time demands associated with defending herself against a slew of ethics complaints following her much-publicized run at the Vice-Presidency, alongside Republican Presidential candidate John McCain). Leaving would also, she said, free her up to work to "help our nation achieve greatness."

I don't know what that means, and apparently, neither did anyone else in the Republican Party. Political strategist Karl Rove said that he and other party leaders were "perplexed" by Palin's move. Republican Senator Chuck Grassley from Iowa said that, "It's astounding," and that a run at the Presidency in 2012 would be difficult for Palin in light of her mysterious resignation. Mike Huckabee, another potential Republican Presidential contender in 2012 said that the move was "risky". Senator Lisa Murkowski even went so far as to accuse Palin as having "abandoned the state and her constituents."

Yet, Republicans nationwide indicated that they like her more for it. Maybe it's because the voting public recognizes that it takes a lot to walk away from such an incredible post for the good of your state, knowing it might cost you a lucrative job in the future. There's a ring of honesty that can't be explained away.

Think about it: Sarah Palin walks away from a post that would be a natural feeder to a Presidential run because the drama surrounding her life is taking away from her ability to serve the state of Alaska. No matter how hard you try, there's no way that the press could possibly spin that and make it some strategic move.

And the American public appreciates that.

Because if there's one thing we American's would love more of, it's representatives who are willing to actually sacrifice their own aspirations for the good of those they purport to serve.

The sad thing is that the Republican Party still doesn't get it; to them it's just a "risky" political move. Which is why they're a party headed rapidly toward political oblivion. It just feels right when a politician stands up and says, "me being in this post has cost the state $2 million; it's not fair to you, so I'll stand down and let another fill the spot." How dare Senator Murkowski accuse Palin of "abandoning" her state? She sacrificed on behalf of her state.

And unless the Republican Party can remove their collective heads from their collective backsides, stop pursuing their own political ambitions, and start doing what's right for their constituency--despite the personal political costs, they'll be a party no more.

Mark my words.

And the last one standing will be Sarah Palin. For all her shortfalls (including her incredibly shrill voice, her lack of nationwide political experience and her relative inability to make more than three consecutive public appearances without saying something incredibly foolish), the American people trust her. And believe in her. And will vote for her.

Governor Sanford could take a lesson from her.