Friday, December 27, 2013

One Last Sappy Blog For The Season

                                                     

First of all, dear readers, I hope you all had a happy Christmas.  Mine was beautiful.  On Christmas Eve my wife and I went to Mass and it was the best I've ever attended, surpassing even those when our children were present.  There was such a sense of peace and an emanating of love among the church folks that night and the Priest who led the mass spoke of what was already in my heart about Jesus.

He spoke of the harsh, punishing and largely unforgiving remote God of the Old Testament and God's reassessment in sending His son, flesh of his flesh, to show us that He loves us and is willing to sacrifice what He holds most dear, his son, in order to save us and let us feel the depth of his love.

While I'm not a huge fan of organized religion, and still have doubts that Jesus was truly God's son, I am enamored of a man who spoke only of love and forgiveness during his brief 33 years on earth.  That is really all I need to know in order to value and worship the season of his birth.

We had a lovely post mass meal, as is our family custom, and a nice Christmas Day dinner as well.  I hope all of you had a joyous Christmas, surrounded by family and friends.

So….if you will permit me one more sappy blog of the season, I'd like to share something with you.

This year has been challenging for me.  When you live on a fixed income, with no further means to increase it, that ghostly six percent of commodity inflation really starts to pinch a bit.  But, I must have read or heard at least a dozen admirable people, in all walks of life, say that, when you give of your time or your money, somehow it all comes back to you in some form of reward.  Yes.  A reward above and beyond the great feeling you get when giving.

So, finally, after hearing that many times, this year I've stepped up my giving a bit, a little more for one more sick child at St. Judes, or perhaps a few extra dollars to buy a bag of dog food or a blanket at the Humane Society, the extra usually driven by a story I read of needy folks who I heard about.

And lo and behold, those "giving sages" were right!  Three of my immediate neighbors have had their sewer lines go out on them and have had to fork out $5,000 dollars for trenching and replacement of broken pipes.  And mine have held up though it is equally as old.  And during the period I have stepped up my giving I have had no major appliances break down nor has a major home repair been needed.  That is quite unusual for a sixty year old house (and in previous years I've had to go into debt to affect a home repair).  Not this year…knock on wood….or divine providence?

So last Friday I'm  sitting at the kitchen table and I'm writing out my bills.  I budgeted my Christmas expenses, added to my other monthly expenses, and I'm writing checks to send out.   Then the mailman knocks on my door and I'm asked to sign for a certified letter.  The letter is from a large Human Resource Management center in Los Angeles.  

The letter informs me that I am now eligible for a $110 dollar per month lifetime pension from a company I worked for in the Middle East for a time.  So I call to confirm this and find out it's true and that my enrollment package will be arriving in the mail this week.  

So…I leave it to you to judge.  Where I had no possible avenue for increasing my income, a source of help comes from the most unlikely source….a small stipend I was not even aware of!  Are those "giving sages" right?….does our creator have the time to look down on little old us and bestow divine providence upon our little heads?  

I would have been just as happy to enjoy what I feel in my heart when giving to others…but it doesn't hurt me a bit to think "the big guy upstairs" is looking out for me.  :)

15 comments:

Jerry Carlin said...

Or Karma, maybe? I hate the idea of giving to get though. Nice that someone in some faraway corporation
decided to get their books up to date. I hope they owe you back pay!
I like your sappy blogs and introducing the human element in you.
As 2014 approaches and you fall back on an argumentative note of politics you might remember that the conservatives cannot win an election without seducing some independents and, god forbid, even a liberal or two! It is messy to shoot a mouse with an elephant gun. Here is to hoping the Republicans can come up with some good candidates this year!
I am glad you had a great Christmas and hope you will do well and have a great New Year!

A Modest Scribler said...

Sorry about the impending political stuff, Jerry…as Popeye said to Olive Oil, "i yam what I yam".

As to winning elections, if I have to ape Ryan and McCain and that ilk to win an election, if I have to compromise my basic principles to win over a liberal or a moderate, it just ain't gonna happen. You see, I'm one of those crazy tea party people that will never sanction illegal immigration, abortion as birth control, burdening my grandchildren to pay for tens of millions of freeloaders, pretending we can still afford the current welfare programs, or legitimizing certain perversions. "I yam what I yam"

Jerry Carlin said...

Yes, as long as you keep getting your pension checks! Return them and I will believe you.

A Modest Scribler said...

I earned my pension checks by serving in the military at half the pay of a civilian, unlike those three generations of government tit suckers that you have so much sympathy for..yes the tit suckers who served as class clown, laughed at those who did homework, denigrated anyone who opted to show respected for institutions, then sunk into a life of dependency because they are illiterate and suffering from never having developed a work ethic.
I'm always amazed that liberals like you demonize those who worked hard all their life , paid into social security, or offers up their life in the military and give a pass to the lazy ass tit-suckers who live off of welfare, food stamps and medicaid generation after generation. Sad. Damned Sad.

ralph jameson said...

Amen.

Jerry Carlin said...

What you earned my friend was an obligation, not oney in the bank but a promise. It was never "your money" set aside. It is like all pensions and social security, they are promises of society to take care of each other in old age, sickness or need. Most people (who live) receive far more than they paid into it. It is an advantage of our society and not living in Somalia like you seem to want. You have earned a promise, nothing more.
The point I am really trying to make is that through restriction of membership and narrow mindedness and the election of the likes of Sarah the tea party is a losing proposition. Your ranks are becoming smaller every day.
American government moves slowly and that has been a good thing. If you were to suggest a direction rather than a position you might get more followers? You must realize that white people in America will forever be in the minority and the good ideas of our past will forever be lost without a softer dialogue. My opinion (?)
would be to keep your rants and raves for craigslist and attempt to get a larger following in this blogosphere. Try it, you might like it.

A Modest Scribler said...

First of all, my military pension was not a promise; it was a contract signed mutually by myself and my government. Need i remind you that not one single society has survived when they surrendered the sanctity of contract law…and since the 12th century no society has thrived without contract law. While you Obamanites have chosen to by-pass contract law by brow beating banks to forego mortgage principal or through union thuggery that encourages separating productivity and reward or the savaging of our most precious contract, the Constitution, as Obama has done with his Czars and circumvention of Congress to set law or ignore it according to his political goals.
As to the tossing in the Sarah factor, you really are going to have to read more of my blogs…blogs in which I attack extremists on the right and left, or appear silly when you charge me and mine with that old saw.
As to follower cultivation, Jerry, from the time I was twelve years old I've never been one to seek popularity over principle and I'm even more set in my ways now….I've always chosen my own roads and if folks want to follow me that's fine..and if they don't that's fine too. But I will never sacrifice my principles for the sake of popularity….that is what liberals do…they drink the kool-aid, join the nearest mob, then begin to spout illogical nonsense and worship at the throne of political correctness.

A Modest Scribler said...

I forgot to add; your reference to social security and the same tired liberal saw that you get paid more than you put in always chooses to disregard what one would have received from that same investment had they put it into a stock index fund. A few honest economists have ran the numbers on this: as I remember the average lifetime SS contribution was something like $200,000 dollars..and if they had put that same amount in stock index fund over their forty working years they would have well over a million bucks in the bank. Even an average 5 percent money market account would have yielded nearly a million.

Secondly, if the the biggest liberal son of a bitch of them all, Lyndon Johnson, had not set precedent by stealing from the multi-trillion dollar Social Security Trust fund to fund his Great Society give-aways there was enough money in SS to take us into the 22nd century with a surplus. So don't go blaming hard working Americans; blame the liberal ilk that discovered they could buy votes with green checks.

Jerry Carlin said...

So far - so good, you have not personally attacked me yet! I believe in contracts also, very much so as I made my living off them for over 30 years! But pensions are in jeopardy everywhere. Detroit and several California cities have filed bankruptcy and more are in line. Contract or not when the money dries up it is gone.
About SS. I have no idea what the average is. I was self employed all my life and paid both sides of it the entire time. That said, I was never rich except to say my time was my own. I paid a total of $50,000 +- into it and in 4 short years have gotten it all back! Stocks would have never done that!
I did invest the paltry sum of $7,500 in the stock market that today is worth about $2,300. I am not too good at that!
Did you happen to see on the news today that capitalism is not doing too well in Cuba? Some businesses are up and running but they have no customers! That was often the problem I ran into, people wanting my services but didn't have the money! Somehow it works that if others have more then I would get more. I know that is a different topic and you do not like that but I am just having conversation here. Thank you for your military service, I wish no one had to do that.

A Modest Scribler said...

Average annual return of the S&P 500 since 1960…Up years, down years included but if you steadily invested in an mutual fund that did not pick stocks but just indexed the S&P 500 you would be far ahead of having the government dole it out to you after inflation has eaten up the buying power of anything you get: 2012 15.88
2011 2.07
2010 14.87
2009 27.11
2008 -37.22
2007 5.46
2006 15.74
2005 4.79
2004 10.82
2003 28.72
2002 -22.27
2001 -11.98
2000 -9.11
1999 21.11
1998 28.73
1997 33.67
1996 23.06
1995 38.02
1994 1.19
1993 10.17
1992 7.60
1991 30.95
1990 -3.42
1989 32.00
1988 16.64
1987 5.69
1986 19.06
1985 32.24
1984 5.96
1983 23.13
1982 21.22
1981 -5.33
1980 32.76
1979 18.69
1978 6.41
1977 -7.78
1976 24.20
1975 38.46
1974 -26.95
1973 -15.03
1972 19.15
1971 14.54
1970 3.60
1969 -8.63
1968 11.03
1967 24.45
1966 -10.36
1965 12.45
1964 16.59
1963 23.04
1962 -9.20
1961 28.51
1960 -0.74
According to the Wharton School of Finance your annual return would have been 12.38 percent…and that's after adjusting for inflation! (http://finance.wharton.upenn.edu/~rlwctr/papers/0429.pdf) So my Social Security contributions would have accumulated to well over 1.5 million b bucks, as would have most others. (my
contributions were about 30 percent higher than average due to my last ten years of highly compensated employment) As Milton Freeman once said put the government in charge of the Sahara desert and in five years we'll have a shortage of sand".

Jerry Carlin said...

Thanks for the math lesson! Here is one other way to look at it:
I live off my Social Security and think that our society would prefer that to my begging on the street corner or robbing grocery stores.
I get $1,100 per month (thank you very much!)On my own to get this kind of money I would have to have over $1,100,000 CASH in the bank! since a certificate of deposit pays about 1% interest these days!
For those of us not clever enough for the stock market I think Social Security is a pretty good deal.
Do you really think someone making $7.25 per hour would invest voluntarily 15% of his income in a personal retirement?

A Modest Scribler said...

Jerry, Jerry, Jerry….what do I have to do to get a liberal to be able to look beyond his big toes. My argument, as I clearly stated was government's management of the program.
Now try to comprehend this: the government SS contributions are mandatory..they don't ASK any citizen whether they WANT to contribute…they take the damn money. Now; try to follow me here. The government could have mandated that everyone put their money in a index fund, and like an IRA, forbid them from taking it out…then letting the fund realize a 12 plus percent return over the last fifty years…then everyone, even minimum wage participates in the prosperity that has grown our GDP by thousands of percent over that time…AND POLITICIANS WOULD NOT HAVE BEEN ABLE TO STEAL FROM THE FUND AND BUY VOTES BY USING IT TO BRIBE THE TITSUCKERS. And earth to Jerry the fucking SS fund is nearly broke..going belly up in a couple of decades. If the program I just proposed were put in place now everyone senior coming into retirement in the next few decades would be flush for retirement (which also benefits the economy, jobs and over all prosperity. I find it laughable that you earlier posted that our pensions are just a promise and not a contract, and here you are drawing SS paid for by Chinese bought U.S. bonds…and you prefer it?????? Jerry, that's why you get pissed and leave, because you can't stand being hit with rational thought and hard core facts. And that's why I will never bend my principles to accommodate a liberal…it is impossible to debate people who live in some fairy land, who never see that humongous $17.5 trillion dollar debt, who don't worry a damn bit that we're running trillion dollar deficits and even worse, Obama is instituting huge, unmanageable programs just rife with fraud, waste and abuse that will send our debt to $30 trillion by 2020. Sad. Damned Sad.

Jerry Carlin said...

What about those who might have invested in the failed banks? or American Steel where I lost my money? Social Security has no risks, well, as long as it is funded anyway! I guess I am cautious, maybe in some ways more conservative than you? Truly I will you that I do not know the answer. I am willing to fish, to hunt and seek lots of ideas. I did not leave you because of your philosophy or political persuasion. It was the anger and personal attacks that I found unproductive. You want to win an election or gain friends and influence people you just gotta be nicer! I know you are not out to win a popularity contest but you want to win converts I assume. You need to let more people in the tent. Unless of course, you are happy to rant in an echo chamber.
A discussion where everyone agrees with each other is short and boring. 1st we need to define how we want the world to be, or the USA to be, or our own community to be. Then figure out how to get there. Simple, right?

A Modest Scribler said...

Re failed bank, failed steel companies….I remind you Jerry, I didn't say a thing about investing in individual stocks…I said the S&P 500 index fund. Surely you can see that some stocks go up, some go down…but if you're not greedy and will accept the average over the long term…you prosper. Look at those numbers again…some years up 25%, some down 15%, etc…if the SS had just invested in the market over the long term…through a no cost mutual fund (you don't need a broker because all you're doing is investing equal shares in the 500 largest companies…you would be far ahead of the government robbers who stole trillions from the trust fund since 1965.
As to the rest of it, I have no problem debating apples and apples…it's when a liberal starts comparing apples to oranges, either to establish a defense mechanism, or to try and refute an indisputable fact (like the hard numbers on the S&P), then it gets to where no one is debating and it just turns into a useless "yeah?"…"oh yeah"…
But when I really turn it off and write someone off is when they fall back on those silly defense mantras like "racist' "neanderthal", homophobic, etc. If you saw my FB page you'd see a rainbow of ethnicities and political points of view so I ain't buying that trash…ever.

Jerry Carlin said...

I would be a better debater if I had a firm position! Sometimes it is easier for me to figure out what I don't like rather than what I like.
Any scenario requires funding and it is pretty easy to look back on the "good old days" with rose colored glasses. Clearly, taxes were higher in the 1950's and maybe not so nice for some.
I think so much of government and economics is BS and out of my control and probably above my pay grade. I know money has to circulate in order for it to work.
I know the divide between the very richest (over 5 million year!) and the masses (you and me buddy!)
has never been greater. I know the percentage of wealth of corporations has never been greater and most of their money is OUT of circulation. so on and on I know what a lot of the problems are, just not what to do about it. I have an innate distaste for lazy people and also understand that is coming from the Puritan background of this country. Nevertheless, wherever it comes from, I hate lazy people. I am not in favor of food cards at all but would prefer food boxes. I think self respect is earned from hard work.
I never call people names unless I am drunk and want a bar fight, the is the predictable result. I truly do hope the Republicans find good candidates this year and maybe the Democrats can find a better one!
I am conservative and do not like sudden changes (I am still married!)but a nice steady and stable direction would be nice.
I mostly like your blog and mostly because you are a great writer and December was a sappy month for you where you allowed your readers to know a little more about you.
I can like you without agreeing with every single point you make.
You make a lot of points I can totally relate to! Onward, slowly,steady ahead!