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By Surflover ·
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responsibility for other people's kids...

by ITgirli In reply to responsibility for other ...

Good for you! That's what I want to do, adoption. During my pregnancy with my son I had a lot of heart problems. I ended up being on bed rest for 4 months and hooked up to heart monitors. I have low blood pressure and apparently my heart could not take the additional strain. It is not something I plan to do again. I think I would enjoy being a foster parent because I could raise so many different children through various parts of their life. It's great what you did for your girls (I can't believe they are all older than me!). You are a great guy!

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responsibility for other people's kids...

by M_a_r_k In reply to responsibility for other ...

<p>Hey, don't spread any rumors about me being big-hearted.  It will soil my well-crafted, perfectly honed reputation. And my PR team will have lay a cow after they give birth to an egg.</p>
<p>On being blessed or lucky, I feel that all luck--good or bad--is a blessed thing. They are all opportunities, and hence they are a test.  How one responds during good times (a test of humility) is as important as how one responds during hard times (a test of faith).  God presented you with an opportunity 24 years ago. You had free choice to do His work or to go about your own business.  It goes without saying that you passed that test.</p>
<p>Similar situation for good ol' ITgirli.  If you believe in such things, health conditions might be telling her that having another child may not be part of God's plan.  Her considering turning her own bad "luck" into good "luck" for a potential adopted child is a pretty wonderful thing.  If through your own adversity and by your example, you can change one person's life for the better in any way, even if it's a stranger you've never met who happens to see you on the street or in the mall or even reads a blog, then God has used you to serve a greater purpose than any of us can comprehend.</p>
<p>Well, enough of my preaching from the pulpit, I gotta go find a phone booth to blast myself back to my sarcastic ways before I really do soil my reputation....</p>

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I must have known Forest Gump

by Surflover In reply to A questions blog

I grew up in the 60’s which has a lot to do with this post… (I guess I’m just an old “hippie&rdquo. The recent hurricanes and their impact on New Orleans, a place where I lived and always loved, the impact on gasoline prices and availability (in my area, mail service was suspended for 4 days because there was NO GAS), and our dependence on a non-renewable resource with a very finite life span has gotten me thinking about the fragile state of our economy, and how we’ve managed to get ourselves into this predicament.

I didn't intend to write a novella when I started this, but unfortunately, there is no short answer to this, so if you’re not into a long read, you may want to look at something else… For those that don’t mind a bit of a read, I’d really like to hear your thoughts about this hypothesis. …Thanks in advance… Surf.

I have come to believe that the high point of American culture was reached in the early 60’s and has been in steady decline ever since. There are several things that have led me to this conclusion, but I think the most significant was the end of WWII.

When the war ended, America had built up an economic engine that could not be imagined by any other country in the world. In fact the pre-war “super powers”, England, France and Germany, as well as the rest of Europe and a large part of Asia were in shambles. The soldiers returned home to hero status, and society absorbed them (for the most part) smoothly back into the workforce. The cost of living was low, many wives continued to work (many joined the workforce during the war to supplant the men who were overseas), and it seemed like everyone set about having children. The large increase in production had kept the cost of living low relative to wages, and it seemed that prosperity was available to everyone. The American population (for the most part), believed in our way of life, believed in the government, voted, and worked hard to increase their standard of living. The post war 40’s through the early 60’s were a time of enormous optimism in the US, but was also a period that set the stage for the ultimate collapse of “the American way of life”… but for the time being, it was “the Age of Prosperity” in the US.

I need to mention a side note at this point; At the end of WWII, General George Patton made the comment (I paraphrase since I can’t remember the exact wording) That WWII was the last war that would be fought with honor… few at the time understood what he meant. IMHO, he was referring to a war that is fought by men against other men to protect their beliefs. Men fighting with courage and valor, risking and some giving their lives to preserve the right of freedom for their countrymen. The advent of technology based weapons, most significantly atomic, and later nuclear, would end that forever. This observation would become a reality one generation later, which I’ll return to in a bit.

The “boomers”, as we affectionately (or not so affectionately) call them, created as a result of the men returning from the war, would be the fabric that eventually unravels our extremely fragile economy. All generations challenge the beliefs and customs of their parent’s generation as they come of age, but this generation was different. They were raised in an unrealistic, almost “head in the sand” culture of incredible frivolity and unbridled optimism. As they came of age and began to ask hard questions, mainly of the reasons for our involvement in the Viet Nam conflict (as it was officially called), they received very few (if any) reasonable answers. This was also the first war to be broadly televised, and I can remember seeing things on the news that were down right horrific. My father was a WWII Navy Aviator (pilots steer big ships into harbors). He had been shot down several times, and was by all intents, a decorated war hero. We had many heated discussions surrounding this validity of “communist expansion” and the purported strategic nature of Viet Nam. His generation believed in the government. I think I joined my first war protest in 7th grade. (I’m actually about ? generation behind the “boomers&rdquo. Few of us remember, but in 1967, we in Detroit had one of the worst race riots in history. A large portion of the city was virtually destroyed, the National Guard was patrolling the streets, and the nightly news was filled with scenes of news crews being rescued from angry mobs by the military for many weeks.

This was also the first generation to find their standard of living, and their prospect for a good career waning. There was more competition for the available jobs, the cost of living was increasing faster than the average wage, and we were entering into a global economy that based it’s survival on and insane and appropriately named strategy, “MAD” (mutually assured destruction). This was the fact, during the cold war, if either the US, or the USSR would tangle, even on a small scale, it would escalate into nuclear war and end life on earth as we know it. The missiles of October nearly brought this to fruition. At one point in the 1970s, there were enough nuclear warheads in place to kill everyone on the planet over 20 times. This was further fueled by the military-industrial coalition which was a by-product of the constant drive to build more effective weapons in the fear that the opponent would get there first and wipe you out before you could wipe them out. This was a premise put forth by John Kenneth Galbraith, a leading economist and advisor to President Kennedy (and others) in his book, “The Age of Uncertainty” (BTW: an excellent read for anyone who is interested in this period of history). We now faced a world where we were no longer the heroes, the future was running out of energy and the lights were beginning to dim.

Some of the events that were contributing to our growing distrust of the established order were Martin Luther King’s freedom marches and the government’s reaction to it. The massacres: Kent state, John Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, Martin Luther King. The upheaval in the 60’s left us disillusioned with our society and looking for answers. Sadly, looking back, we all believed we could change the world through protesting, and forcing our leaders to listen to our view and change things for the better. I doubt that any really significant long-term changes were made that significantly improved things, with the exception of the civil rights movement. The things brought by the 70’s are a testament to that.

The next **** to our confidence was the wind down of the Viet Nam conflict. Our veterans returned home to war protests, jeered by crowds as baby killers, and faced a bleak prospect of re-joining society. I must admit, that many of my generation were those that over reacted to the veterans. After all, the soldiers did not choose to travel ? way around the world, to a small Asian peninsula, to fight a war that was not theirs and be forced to kill women and children who were frequently carrying weapons to kill them (in order to defend their homes from the foreign invaders). It was our political system that sent them there. I recently have been wondering why a mother who lost her son in Iraq seems to be the only one protesting the current Iraq war, but I think we all saw the futility of it during our youth… and I must add, to date, I haven’t seen much change resulting from her protests. This (FINALLY) brings me back to the economy (man I never thought I could be so long winded).

President Nixon realized the economic impact that war production had on our economy, and the military-industrial coalition that had formed in the 60’s needed a reason to continue. The USSR gave us that motivation by acting as the evil empire, and ironically, gave them exactly the opposite. While our economy is fueled by profits from producing war materials, their system, devoid of profits, simply drew down their resources for other programs and guaranteed their eventual economic collapse. But the Watergate fiasco and Nixon’s resulting resignation further cemented our distrust in the government. The protest music from the late 60’s and 70’s was now history, but the “sex, drugs, and rock and roll” culture was not.

It is interesting at this point to note the parallel of art and music with society. The 40’s had the big bands (lively, fun), the 50’s through the mid 60’s had rock and roll and Elvis (very upbeat, but some slight social commentary), The late 60’s had the Stones, the Beatles, Hendrix, Joplin, the Doors and too many others to mention (Very counter culture, critical of the “establishment&rdquo… and then came the 70’s… as though the children raised in the happy times of the 50’s wanted to return to a “head in the sand” culture devoid of political action, we got disco. Although there was some well crafted music of the era (Earth wind and fire, and Boz Scags come to mind), it was overshadowed by a dance culture of the “me” generation. No political or social commentary whatsoever. The 80’ and 90’s seem to have been devoid of an identifiable trend altogether, but it may just be that I no longer paid attention. The current of art movements during those same periods is even more bleak. We had Abstract in the 50’s, Pop and Op art in the 60s, and Conceptual art in the 70’s (which many, in and out of the Art world might argue was not art at all). At this point, art trends virtually hit a brick wall and died in the late 70’s with the last gasp being Super Realism. It has been said that the art trends precede cultural change by a generation in most cases. Today, there is no distinguishable art movement, and we now have a music culture that elevates violence and gang sub-culture.

So the economy, now tightly bound to the military-industrial coalition, and the oil industry (which also benefited from the military-industrial coalition) is in need of another shot in the arm. With war being less tenable, (even with a non-communist state there was fear that the USSR would take the other side and things would get out of control, i.e. “MAD”), we got the “Me” era full force which was epitomized by junk bonds. While it generated huge amounts of capital for questionable business ventures, it drained money from the average man to make others ridiculously rich. The economy was faltering, but it was not on the ropes. It would take unbridled optimism of another kind (the VC frenzy of the late 90’s to accomplish that). And then a major event occurred on the other side of the world… the USSR collapsed. As I mentioned earlier, it was inevitable. By the time, George Bush Sr. became President, war was now no longer out of the question, and he brought with him a thorough understanding of two critical principals in our economy. The first was that a good war could boost the economy for a decade. The second was that we were running out of oil, and a lot of the oil in the ground was controlled by people who were not real fond of the good ole USA.

At the risk of sounding like a war monger, I do believe that we did the right thing in kicking Iraq out of Kuwait. Saddam is probably one of the most vile dictators since Hitler, and he needed his a$$ kicked. But the devil was in the details. Fully expecting a protracted war with Iraq which would consume a lot of military hardware (thus boosting the economy by defense contracts being let to build more and hopefully not consume too many American soldiers in the process), and planning to get additional access to oil through a negotiated peace with Iraq, there was no plans developed for the outcome that occurred only 4 days into the war, the surrender of Iraq. The analysis of the state of Saddam’s military in and around Bagdad was that it was a formidable, organized and well trained force with the advantage on known geography. A hastily formed group of military strategists advised then President Bush that continuing the war could turn it in Saddam’s favor, and that there would be large losses of American troops on the ground which the American public did not support, and would cost him a 2nd term (which he lost anyway). This outcome had a triple negative for our economy, there was no new defense contracts let, the major burden of the cost of the war (deploying the forces ? way around the world) would be shouldered directly by the US taxpayers, and there was no access to new oil (Iraq’s).

The impact of that economic miscalculation wash masked however by the VC frenzy of the late 90’s. While the web had been around for a long time (I was a systems programmer on the Arpanet project in the early 80’s), the non-tech business community now embraced it as the new frontier, not seen so closely since the original Star Trek series with Kirk, McCoy, Scotty and Spock. They were throwing incredible amounts of money at anyone who could write down an idea that could be programmed into a web site. If there is any doubt go to F***edcompany’s web sited and look at the hall of fame (/hof) to see what ridiculous things were able to raise millions of dollars. Once this bubble burst, the true outcome of that economic mistake was realized, and with nothing else to prop it up, the economy was now “on the ropes”. Then came **1.

Once again, our enemies provided an avenue to bolster our faltering economy. President George W. Bush, was handed a banner he could wave in the greater interest of the planet and accomplish two major economic objectives – one: pump money back into the military-industrial machine which was a major supporter of all things republican, and two: get access to more oil by ousting Saddam for good, and turning Iraq into a capitalist strong hold in the oil rich middle east. Well, Saddam is gone, but the probability that we can ever get out of Iraq and have them remain democratic is rapidly dwindling. Most likely, as soon as the military presence is gone, it will deteriorate into the tribal fiefdoms that it had been for centuries prior to Saddam’s ruthless consolidation of power (cooperate or be tortured and killed).

While our economy is relatively stable at the moment, we are in the precarious position of spending down our resources without a recovery plan in place. The current drain on the coffers by the military effort in Iraq, combined with the upcoming draw to rebuild the Gulf coast and the as of yet uncalculated drain of the displaced refugees without any economic assts being absorbed into the many cities that have come to their aid will have a long term impact on our economy that even a very successful war could not reverse. And about the time we recovery from this, (probably 8 or 10 years from now), the oil supply will be dangerously low (China is increasing oils consumption faster than we area) and the “boomers” will be entering retirement, removing a large portion of the tax base from the economy.

What are we leaving for our kids to clean up?

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