Monday, February 28, 2005

More Good Stuff From This Weekend's RMN

While reading this column from Mark Brown at the RMN this weekend, I wished that it could have been printed in the editorial column, rather than on the last page of the arts and entertainment section:

"Everyone, I guess, has the right to do something to make the world a little less pleasant for us all to live in, be it TV programming execs or the guy next door.

This came home again recently when Shasta Bates made news with a bumper sticker ('F--- Bush') that made her a brief cause celebre when a police officer (who apparently flunked civics) threatened to arrest her for it.

Yeah, she had the absolute right to speak her mind. Too bad that the thought was so shallow. Does 'F--- Bush' change anyone's view or add to the discussion? Or does it just reinforce what you already believe, one way or another?

If she really wanted to change minds, she might have gotten a sticker that provoked a little thought rather than knee-jerk reactions. Myself, I laughed out loud when I saw the one that said 'Where am I? Where are we going? Why am I in this handbasket?' Or another one a few years ago: 'When guns are outlawed, only outlaws' kids will accidentally shoot themselves.' "

I, too, laughed out loud at the handbasket joke.

Renting or Owning Social Security

Over the weekend, I saw this column by Spencer Swalm in the RMN:

"...Our present Social Security system is a lot like "renting" a retirement plan. At the heart of the system is the notion that the government ("the landlord"), not the beneficiary ("the tenant"), is responsible for the retirement benefit ("the apartment"). In exchange for your Social Security payroll taxes ("monthly rent check"), the government/landlord takes care of everything from deciding how to use your money to guaranteeing you an apartment when you turn 65.

Like apartment dwellers, Social Security beneficiaries assume none of the risks of owning their retirement accounts. In the 70 years that Social Security has been in existence, there have been plenty of down times in the markets brought on by depression, inflation, corporate scandals, and wars.

But while Social Security beneficiaries have not participated in these declining values, neither have they participated (much) in the good times. And there have been more good times over the years than bad. According to experts, the rate of return on Social Security payroll taxes is about 1 percent or 2 percent. By contrast, an individual investing in a diversified mix of stocks and bonds over a working life time would earn 6 percent to 8 percent. Over a typical career, the difference could mean hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Death, again, deserves mention. Most Social Security survivor benefits depend on things you don't control: whether you have a surviving spouse or kids, how old they are and whether they were financially dependent on you. Thus, if your heirs fall into the right categories, they can wind up with a modest apartment that must be vacated at their death or emancipation. If they don't, regardless of whether you paid rent for 40 years, they can expect little more than a condolence card."

Great analogy!

Friday, February 25, 2005

My Excuse For Not Blogging This Week

Blogging has been light this week primarily because I have been working on another blog. I'm using Blogger and Flickr to maintain a photoblog of my Super Bowl trip.

If you're not a regular reader, my company sent a group of its top performing people to the Super Bowl this year. Since I organized the trip, I got to go with them. Now they are sending me their pictures and I am loading them to the blog site so everyone can see them. It's a good way to wrap up the trip because these guys are spread out all over the country and would have difficulty staying in touch otherwise.

But it's not going to be a static blog. I am using the pictures as a hook, but then I plan to use the blog as a meeting place for these guys. As I said before, these guys are the top performers in our company and their collective knowledge is quite impressive. I plan to solicit feedback and keep them engaged through the blog.

I'll keep you posted on its success.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Silver Lining on Brents Story

David Harsanyi asks in this morning's DP column:

"...can anything positive possibly be wheedled out of a psychopathic rape spree?"

The answer is yes!

The horror of this incident has focused the lens on sexual offenders and their post-incarceration activities. While Harsanyi focuses on the shortcomings of sexual offender registry lists, Diane Carman railed against the lack of police action here and here.

All of this criticism assures one thing: greater scrutiny and suspicion of all sexual offenders for the foreseeable future.

The next time a sexual offender claims he or she was discriminated against by his or her neighbors, we will all say, "Remember Brent J. Brents. Remember the rallies of support for the victims and the police who helped them. Remember that you couldn't find a columnist in the paper saying that Brents' rights superceded the victims' rights."

For now, this will be the mindset, and our children will be safer for it.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Prager comes to CU

Courtesy of McRyanMac, I found out that Dennis Prager is coming to speak at CU on March 2nd. I would love to attend if I can only find a babysitter...

Friday, February 18, 2005

Will Bloggers Force Regime Change in Iran?

It looks like the power of the blogosphere is infiltrating the Iranian government.

Since we're talking about Iran so much these days, here's another blog I came across at FreeRepublic

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

The Next Big Show

You may have noticed I changed the banner at the top of the page. My wife's run at the Pinnacle Dinner Theatre is coming to a close. However, her next show at Country Dinner Playhouse starts in a few weeks.

She moves from the 50's to the 60's in Beehive - The 60's Musical. Not only is she doing her first show at one of Denver's more well-known dinner theatres, she is also getting her Equity Card, which means she'll be a part of the Actor's Equity Association.

While I'm not big unions, being a part of this organization will open up more opportunities for her at some of Denver's biggest theatres that only hire Equity members.

Girl in Right Running For Office

Girl in Right came back from the LPR Retreat and has decided to run for office. Go check out her site and see how you can help.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Who's Manning the Ship at CU?

The Ward Churchill incident is just the latest in the saga of mismanagement at the University of Colorado. As much as I despise Churchill and his beliefs, the root cause of the problem is that no one seems to be at the helm in Boulder.

According to Mike Rosen's article in the RMN this morning:

"The University of Colorado is a government enterprise. What happens there is a legitimate matter of public policy. CU has an elected board of regents accountable, first and foremost, to the citizens who put them in office. The administrators and faculty are employees, not owners. The school belongs to the people of this state."

As administrators who are accountable to the citizens that elected them, the regents have done a poor job of selecting professors to represent the university. Of course, I'm sure that they gave Churchill a job in order to increase the diversity of the campus. This is the lamest excuse for ever giving anyone a job (obviously not a fan of affirmative action).

I know that it may be difficult to research every professor that applies for a position at CU, but would any employer who is going to pay someone $92,000 not check references and past work experience? A professor's writings and speeches serve as his or her resume.

The attitude at CU seems to be reactive so as not to impose on anyone's opinions or beliefs. They react to underage drinking by restricting freshmen from going through rush. A few years ago, they were voted the nation's #1 party school. Wouldn't that have been the time to address the issue, instead of waiting for a student's death to drive the point home.

It takes a criminal investigation to prompt a clean-up of the football program. In this day and age of NCAA compliance and internal procedures to ensure institutional control, what was CU doing?

No one seems to have any idea what is going on in Boulder until it blows up into a national scandal. There is serial scandal going on there, and the single reason for it all has to be the leadership.

CU needs to clean house without regard to tenure or political correctness if it ever hopes to achieve a standing among the nation's elite universities.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Super Bowl Wrap-Up

You might have noticed that blogging has been on hold since last Tuesday. This was mostly because I was in Jacksonville at Super Bowl XXXIX. My company ran a contest last year to find the most well-maintained communities in our portfolio. Each winner won a trip to the Super Bowl. Since I ran the contest, I got to go too.

It was a lot of fun and a lot of work, as I was sort of the "tour guide" for the group.

Here are my impressions of the Super Bowl:
1. Jacksonville did the best they could with what they had. There was some grumbling about the city not being able to deal with the traffic and crowds, but I think they did as well as could be expected.

2. The game is great, but if you take away all the fanfare, it is still just a football game. I know it is the championship game, but if your team isn't in it, it is hard to get really hyped about it. It still was fun to be in the Super Bowl atmosphere.

3. The whole spectacle is all about money. The restaurants trotted out new menus with higher prices, every street was full of merchandise for sale, and some people actually mortgaged their houses to afford a ticket. I know I wouldn't have been there had my company not sent me, and I am sure that most people there were in the same boat.

Overall, we had a great time and for most of the guys on the trip, it was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Carman: Blame The Man

I actually have some real knowledge on the topic which Diane Carman screws up in this morning's DP.

As an operations project manager for one of the largest Landlord's in the country, I was interested in what Diane had to say about Landlords.

To start, she says:

"A new arrival from New York City e-mailed me recently expressing alarm at the number of homeless people on Denver's streets. He was shocked by the beggars everywhere. If New York could solve its homeless problem, he said, surely Denver could."

Apparently the new arrival from NYC never went outside. I seriously doubt anyone who has ever been to NYC would call the homeless problem "solved." I know the lady who used to urinate in my doorway when I lived there would probably not consider it "solved." This sort of misrepresentation from Carman is to be expected, especially since she thinks that nobody else in the world has problems besides Colorado.

But I digress...

According to Carman, the reason we have homelessness is because people don't get their security deposit back soon enough and late fees are too high. This leads to eviction, which leads to homelessness.

In actuality, what leads to eviction is: NOT PAYING YOUR FRIGGIN' RENT!!!!

If you pay your rent on time, you don't get charged a late fee and you don't get evicted. Crazy stuff, I know.

Also, if you are down to your last dime so that you need your deposit back before you can rent elsewhere, then your path to homelessness was set long ago.

I'm not making light of homelessness or that it is a problem, but it is caused by a number of factors - unemployment, mental illness, medical conditions, bad luck. It is not caused by unscrupulous landlords (and believe me there are a lot of these).

Instead of talking about the real underlying factors, factors that generally put more of the blame back on the homeless individual, Carman would rather Blame The Man.