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On Thursday, Feb 18, the Federal Reserve announced that it intends to increase its Discount Rate. I found this to be interesting, because I spent the greater portion of my senior year working on the Fed Challenge, and we (as a group) determined we should increase interest rates (the Fed, however, ended up dropping them even more). However, I’m pretty sure most people don’t actually understand what this means for the economy, despite it actually having a lot of economic significance.

I noticed that a lot of people like to say they understand economic policy of the government, but have no idea about the uses of monetary policy, even though it makes up half of our economic policy. Dammit, most people don’t even know the relevance of the Federal Reserve.

And, yes, I am fully aware that I have talked about this before. If you want a real quick explanation, you can go back and read my previous blog posts about the Federal Reserve:
1)The Real Quick (and, now that I look back, poorly written) Blurb
2)A Post About Possibly Shifting More Power to Congress and Away from The Federal Reserve

But going back to the original topic, I think it’s fascinating that the Fed decided to increase the Discount Rate. It’s an action that I’ve been hoping they’d do for quite some time in an effort to move towards a normal economic system. Hopefully this is a sign that the Federal Reserve tends to put some value back into our dollar, instead of continually plummeting the interest rate to pump more money into the economy.

However, I am curious to see how soon it will be until the Federal Reserve decides to bump their Reserve Rate up. The Fed has stated that they want to keep their interest rates relatively low, so that banks can still borrow money (Congress, on the other hand, likes to pump money into the economy with no direction or goal of using it to put the economy back on track), but I’m not sure if this increase will be enough to encourage banks and investors that the economy is actually improving. I’ll be interested to see when the Federal Reserve decides to increase their Reserve Rate, because it’ll be a good gauge of how well they think our economy is coming out of the depression.

The situation is twice as interesting since Bernanke is up for reappointment by the president, and I wonder if this decision will help or hinder his reappointment. Despite him being an appointment made by Bush, Obama seems likely to reappoint Bernanke for a second term. I personally feel that Bernanke is far too fearful of making significant changes, and that the Federal Reserve dances around too much and allows the economy to grow too much (resulting in a bubble burst and a recession), but past Fed Chairmen (*cough* Alan Greenspan *cough*) have been equally terrible. Perhaps if they didn’t worry so much about being reappointed, they’d be capable of doing their job.

And yet we see the same problems in government politics. Elected (and appointed) officials are so damn terrified about not being reappointed that they do a poor job because they’re too afraid to do anything. And, as a result, the economy crumbles because politicians have to listen to American society, many of whom think that by simply making more money, we’ll be a richer country.

Perhaps if Americans could realize they’re not as smart in Economics and Policy Making as they claim to be, they’d be more willing to learn and understand, and politicians could actually do their job. It’s funny to think that politicians get voted in because they suck at policy making (as much as Americans suck at political science).


Post-writing apologizes: I realize that this has become more of a complaint about how American people don’t understand economics/political science rather than an analysis of what the Federal Reserve Discount Rate increase actually means. I’m glad the Federal Reserve Discount Rate has increased, because it’ll hopefully trick the economy into improving and jump start loaning again. But most people won’t see the relevance in it since most people, wrongly, think the government has complete control over the economy. Silly Americans.

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I know! I haven’t posted in a very long time. Things have been very busy for me. I ended up in the hospital about two weeks ago due to severe dehydration, mostly because I forgot that water is an essential part of the body! But, I do have a lot of things I want to talk about, and one of my meetings (Hall Council) was canceled, so I’ve suddenly found the time to rant a bit. I do have a lot of things I want to talk about, so hopefully I’ll be posting more, so I don’t keep forgetting to.

A week ago, my friend Bill and I decided to go to Wendy’s to pick up some baconators (yes, I can finish a baconator, but only if its a single). While we were there, we got into talking about American privileges, most of which are defined within our Bill of Rights (but we talked about other things, like American passports and such). I stated that most Americans generally undervalue their rights, while immigrants tend to cling onto them more because they may not have had them in their country of origin.

In any case, the conversation moved into several other topics (such as Final Fantasy). But, as we were talking about something totally different, the woman who sat across from us decided to stand up and face me. After overhearing our conversation, this is what she had to say (I wrote it down right after she left):

“I’m proud to be an American. I know my rights. You foreigners think they can just come in here and get all the privileges we Americans have.”

She then proceeded to say something about foreigners not understanding America and then proceeded to leave. Her husband (who didn’t say anything) hung around a little, went to the bathroom and left.

The statement itself was rather shocking, but highlights how ignorant people can be (and I’m not talking about her use of “you” and “them” in the same sentence) about their culture, privileges and political structure.

For one, she automatically assumed I was a foreigner. She did not make any contact with my friend, who was a white male, but proceeded to complain to me directly, because I was a foreigner who clearly did not understand America. For all she knows, I could have been a fifth generation Asian-American with a father who worked in county politics (which I’m not). But all of this would have been inconsequential, because I looked like a foreigner. This was more of a racial-generalization problem that I found personally aggravating because I happen not consider myself a foreigner.

My two major gripes with her statement were that:

1) She argues that foreigners take away American rights, because foreigners inherently need to be separated from the true Americans (perhaps she should look into being part of the Aryan brotherhood). Therefore, foreigners are inherently separated from the American culture and adding more foreigners takes away from the “true” American, as if there were people who were “truly American.” It makes me curious to see what she thinks about African-Americans. Are they “foreigners” or are they Americans? What about Hispanics? Or is she picking on Asians because we have small eyes?

Going further than that, it makes me wonder what she feels foreigners do deserve. Does she want to ship us all back and make America a 100% white, protestant country? What do “Americans” deserve? What does it mean to be “American” and does it have to do with race? If she wants to be really technical and go back to outdated times, many of our founding fathers wouldn’t have considered her an American, because she was a woman.

2) She clearly didn’t understand what American privileges I was talking about, because you can’t quite split up “Freedom of Speech” and other things. If another person enters a country, American does not take away another person’s freedom of speech and hand it to the new immigrant. In a monetary sense, then I suppose adding more people takes government money away from others, but she doesn’t have much of a right to talk, since I’m pretty sure she takes social security checks (and, judging from her age, Medicare) and probably gets more money from the government than a Fresh Off the Boat (FOB) 30 year old Asian man.

I wanted to ask her how much she really knew about American privileges. Does she know that 5 adults pay for every person on Social Security? Is she aware of how Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid were developed? Does she know how our welfare state is organized?

Her comment really drove home the idea that Americans undervalue and disregard our privileges as, well, privileges. Because it is so ingrained that these “privileges” are human necessities, she and others like her forget that there are countries such as China, where free speech is just about non-existent, and France, where the burka may be banned because it poses a threat to their secular state. We often take for granted our freedom to speak out against the government and practice our religion. Often, we even take for granted our freedom to work hard so we can rise in economic status (because, yes, that is a freedom that some other states do not give to their citizens). Even I know that, in many situations, I undervalue the privileges I would not have in many other countries.

While I decided not to verbally fight against her, what she said to me was both hilarious and depressing in its sheer ignorance. Although I would like to think that there are not many others like her, it’s this lack of intelligence and humility that drove me to make my comment in the first place.

I wonder if she would have thought differently had she known I was a political science major.

Sex by any other word.

Hello everyone. I’m still on break, but I discovered this article while reading several reputable and not so reputable news sources. My schedule this semester is pretty full, so I have yet to determine a good time for me to post on a continual basis. However, this academic semester has started of well, and I look forward to continually providing my poor and possibly useless commentary to an audience who may or may not exist.

Several things to look out for:

1) The State of the Union Address (for the United States of America), is this Wednesday. I encourage all of you to listen to it or watch it (probably the latter). I think it is extremely relevant to any person who lives in America. Many people have been complaining about the continual war, or asking questions like: “What is the country doing to fix the economy?” Well, this is a perfect time for people to learn what topic the president is actually concentrating on. Is he putting all his efforts into supporting a health care bill, or is he concentrating more on the new supreme court ruling? Liking politics or not is immaterial at this point. It’s about knowing what is actually going on, and being educated enough to recognize the importance of finding things out for yourself.

Besides, I always found it was rather stupid that people liked to make commentary about what they knew near-nothing about. For example, people who love American Democracy without realizing that American runs on a Republic system. Or commentating on the “international free market” when it doesn’t exist. Or complaining about the American economy without doing a little research. Reading blogs (even mine) may be insightful, but I would hardly consider it research.

2) I’m going to try cutting back on the actual length of my posts. Usually, my rants will last about 1000 words, which is good (I suppose) for people with nothing better to do. But, I feel it is more beneficial for me to learn how to write less while still relaying the same amount of information than it is to write whatever the hell I want for over 9000 (yes, I went there) words.

Course, it didn’t really work today, because I’ve seem to have hit past my intended mark of 500 today. Man do I need to shorten these “precursor complaints.”

‘Oral sex’ definition prompts dictionary ban in US schools – Guardian.co.uk

I understand if an elementary school wants to ban Catcher in the Rye, or if a public school is comfortable with carrying, say, copies of playboy. Heck, I even understand how a protected/limited search engine would ban you from searching for Shel Silverstein (although it is more of a “I can see people programming this poorly” than as an actual ban). But dictionaries? Because they contain definitions of sexually explicit words?

Please, like you would use the word coitus to explain how you created your child in the first place.

I thought it was interesting how parents dream of their kids growing old and getting married and possibly having kids of their own, when the very same parents are terrified that their child will learn (oh goodness, that dreaded word), about SEX. Yes, perhaps kids shouldn’t learn about sex when they’re 4 or 5, but they’ll have to understand what it is eventually. Children do grow up. Many will have sex eventually, probably far before you realize they’ve lose their virginity. Trying to remove all possible relations to any connotation of sexual interaction will only serve to feed their ignorance. Or, encourage their rebellion.

When will it be time to teach a child about sex? As much as we would like to think that “they’ll just know” or “we’ll know when they’re mature enough,” the world does not work that way. There is no telepathic connection that sends a signal to your brain that says “your child is ready to know about sex.” By continually viewing children as, well, children who are incapable of “understanding” the complexities of sex, not only will children realize they can no longer learn from their parents, but they will move onto other sources. Perhaps not so wonderful sources (unless you guys seem to believe that music videos and dictionaries are a good way to educate children about sex).

Which leads me to another question. When it is time for a child to learn about sex, where will he or she learn it? The school? A dictionary? The side of a cigarette carton? I’d hope not. I would think that children would be able to trust their parents enough, at whatever age they are at, to learn about what sex is. Perhaps, if more parents took the time to explain sex without either avoiding it or depending on other sources to teach it, we would have fewer pregnant preteens.

In any case, it is ridiculous to have the notion that your child will always and forever be pure and free of sexual thoughts and influences. By educating and teaching your child when they ask about sex (whether they discover it through a dictionary or a friend), you (as a parent or future parent) will be able to explain what sex is before they think that sex is something akin to a mash of hentai, playboy, rap videos and dictionary explanations.

Break

Mint Cafe will be on break indefinitely until I figure out what my new schedule is going to look like for the Spring 2010 semester.

Family Vacations

Hello everyone. I am on vacation, which is a rare chance for me. Currently, I am typing away from Florida, after an amazing visit to Disney World. If you have enough money and time on your hands, I encourage you to go. It was really quite amazing. But bring good shoes. I don’t think my feet will ever be the same again.

I also had a really spectacular New Years. It’s pretty funny, I left NYC for Orlando, and I spent my New Years Day watching the ball drop from NYC. Way to shove it in my face that NYC is great during the winter season.

Currently Reading: Out of My Mind by Andy Rooney
Currently Eating: Nothing
Currently Drinking: Mountain Dew (MTN DEW)
Currently Listening To: A Girl Worth Fighting For (Mulan, Disney)
Currently Located: Florida
Current Mood: Childlike, giddy, relaxed, happy 😀

This weekend, I had the distinct pleasure of visiting Orlando, Florida. And, as a result, I had the equally distinct pleasure of GOING TO DISNEY WORLD FOR THREE DAYS. It was particularly interesting because my last visit to Disney World was a family vacation. Disney world, as a theme park, is an especially popular place to take children on vacation, and it is rather interesting to see how parents interacted with their children. Everyone thinks of Disney World as the “happiest place on Earth.” After all, the park encourages you to smile till your face falls off. And yet, my memories of Disney World (and many other family vacations in areas that encourage family vacationing) are filled with bad memories.

The problem with most family vacations is that, although the parents intend on making it a vacation, parents also want to make the most out of their time by making sure their children sees everything! This results in a lot of running from sight to sight, rushing through food, complaining at someone when things go wrong, and getting into fights with other parents who are doing the same thing. Instead of taking the time as an actual vacation (you know, to relax), parents feel rushed to finish everything and make sure their children get to “do what their kids want to do,” even though their kids don’t know what they want to ride on, or see. As a result, the parents just try to do everything. And while we don’t know what kids want to do, we know what they don’t want to do: rush around and bump into things while their parents fight over what to do next.

Another problem with family vacations (and parenting as a while) is that parents like to use their children as a way to “extend” their dreams. Rather than the child living as an individual, the parent lives vicariously through their offspring (I’m sure plenty of you guys know THAT feeling). On a larger, lifestyle scale, this is when a parent forces a child to pick up an occupation that “I’ve always wanted to do as a child and never got to,” or when the parent makes the child attend a college of the parent’s choosing. On a smaller, theme park scale, this is when a parent drags a child to a ride because the parent really wants to go on it, or makes the child take pictures with characters that the child might not want to take pictures with (this was especially popular with my family, who forced both my brother and I to take pictures with every character that came within vision). The child gets really frustrated, because s/he doesn’t want to do all these crazy (and possibly scary) things, and the parents get frustrated because they thought that’s what the kid wanted to do (“because that’s what I always wanted to do as a kid”) and the action resulted in more stress and more crazy/upset children.

This leaves the family with a rather unpleasant vacation, full of dragging, screaming, crying and unhappy memories. Another family vacation, ruined.

In hindsight, I realize that a lot of this stuff could have been avoided by taking me on vacation to places at a slightly older age, and to places that actually had stuff to do. Families that brought their children when they were older (and not between the ages of 2 and 6) avoided the hassle of using strollers (there was a ton of “stroller parking lots” in Disney World) and encouraged a family-vacation atmosphere by allowing their kids to choose what they wanted to do (because kids were able to make decisions on their own by that point). Children were able to vocalize when they were doing things too fast, or when they didn’t want to go on a particularly scary ride (this doesn’t actually mean that the parents listened…. another major problem with family vacations). Children were also able to better appreciate areas like Epcot that were geared towards a slightly older audience, and they had a slightly better patience for long lines.

The nice part about Disney World is that some parts are geared towards a younger audience. Even in a park such as MGM Hollywood Studios (where there were increased thrill rides and older-movie references), there were places that were specifically geared towards the younger audience. In other family vacationing spots, such as a city like San Fransisco or Washington DC, there is a lot more stress with regards to planning to do everything and a lot more of those “things” are adult-oriented. I wonder what family vacations are like in New York City, with parents dragging their kids to Times Square, the Statue of Liberty and the tons of museums, all the while having to deal with their kids whining about the walk and trying to understand the rather confusing subway system (I don’t think it’s really that confusing, but I’m sure that’s just because I’ve lived there the majority of my life). The worst tourists to deal with in the city are the family vacationers, since the parents are in a continual state of stress and anxiety, and the kids are always complaining and screaming.

With all the stress that comes with “I need my kid to see the world,” it’s no wonder that every child always wants to go on vacation with their friends, rather than with their crazy parents.

A Response.

Apologies for not posting last week. I had final exams, I was going through a week of sleepless nights and food-less days. By the end of it all, it was worth it (although my body seems to think otherwise). I’m pretty sure I passed all my classes, and I’m back to complaining about politics, economics and human society!

This week, I’ve gone back to the health care reform debate to talk about the Senate bill for Health Care reform. It is interesting to note that “A Bill” (yes, that is the name of the bill) is roughly 2,700 pages long, so I don’t expect anyone to read through the whole thing. Admittedly, I did not read the whole thing myself (I no longer have the time to read 2000 page bills that are being thrown around Congress), but I have skimmed several sections on it, and yes, I did read up on it using several sources (both Democrat and Republican -aligned). The bill has gone through several radical changes since it’s movement to the Senate, so note that this is almost a totally different bill than the one that was introduced in the House several weeks ago.

Also, I’ve made a decision to no longer be a redditor. Unfortunate, yes, but I’ve decided that Reddit.com is too unfriendly of a community, and that the users of Reddit are misinformed, ignorant, liberal morons who refuse to acknowledge that other people may be offended by their pretentious and ass-hat behavior. Not every avid internet user is a pig headed atheist who thinks that Obama (or liberal thinking as a whole) is the voice of a generation.

As always, thank you for taking the time to read, and I hope you all have a very pleasant winter vacation! As I will continually remind you, if you’d like to comment, please comment on wordpress (not facebook).

Currently Reading: Nothing, but I anticipate books for Christmas
Currently Drinking: Apple Juice
Currently Eating: Butter Biscuits (which are delicious)
Current Mood: Relaxed

It’s been an interesting week for health care reform, especially since the Senate called their health care reform bill to question (this means forcing a close of debate “on the floor” and making everyone vote) in the early hours of a Monday morning (somewhere between 12-2 AM). Drastically different from the House bill (“The Affordable Health Care for America Act), the Senate bill (“A Bill”) will not include a public health care option, but would increase subsidies to help Americans pay for government-approved health care plans that are in the government-run “marketplace,” otherwise known as The Exchange (The Exchange exists in both the House and the Senate bills). The senate bill also gives more control to the states, who would regulate their own exchange programs and would be able to effectively “ban” health care plans that supported abortion.

Democratically-aligned politicians have urged a passing of this bill. “We need health care reform, and we need it fast,” they urge. As a result, we get this rushed health care reform bill that disregards costs, efficiency and individual rights. So long as it’s a reform, it must be good right? And it’s the government, so we’re sure they have our best interests at heart, right?

Wrong. By forcing the bill to pass, at any cost, before Christmas, the Democratic half (60 of the 100 votes) neglects many problems with the bill, including high cost and poorly designed contracts with private programs. Any problems that they may have essentially gets dumped on the state governments, who have to organize costly marketplace programs, mostly without federal support. And, instead of actually providing reform to our health care system, Congress will opt to pump the market with subsidies so that people have to take poorly designed health care programs. And, if people (or business) don’t want to get health care, they’ll have to pay a fine. They’ll be forced to take government contracted health care plans that they do not want.

And, in total, this bill would cost up to and maybe over 780 billion dollars, even without the organization of a public option. Much of this money would be going into providing subsidies for people under the poverty line (increasing taxes), organizing new health packages (that only cover 50% of all costs), creating 50 different marketplaces, and paying for contracts with private companies. And where will this money come from?

Why, you, of course! Both the House and the Senate bills claim to be self-sustaining bills, but the chances that either plan will receive the money they project from Medicaid/Medicare or any public option are slim, at best. And, as medical costs continue to increase (as more and more people decide to take medical operations that they feel they can afford because “it’s on my health care plan anyway”), taxes will have to increase. Increased taxes on medical supplies, increased taxes on business both large and small, and increased income taxes.

The government may want to pay for health care for 30 million Americans, but money simply does not appear without consequences. And by pushing the bill to be passed before Christmas, the Democratic Senate and President Obama pushes for poorly organized health care reform that will dump us in a worse state than before.

Yes, our health care system needs reform. No, I don’t need to have it before Christmas. If I have to wait another several months for reform that is cheaper, better regulated, and more organized, I’m willing to hold out. This is not a situation where “it’s better than anything else.” This is worse than the health care system we already have in order.

For more information about the comparison between the House bill and the Senate bill, the New York Times has a rather comprehensive compare-and-contrast list between the two. It can be found here. Please remember that the House bill has already been passed, while the Senate bill is going to a vote at 7:00AM on December 24, 2009. Most of you will probably be busy with your friends and families, but it’s important to please keep an ear and eye out for any news! Go! Be informed!

Hello everyone,

I hope you all are having a splendid and wonderful winter season. There hasn’t been a lot of snow up here, but it has been rather windy (and chilly as all fuck), so we get all the crummy cold weather without the actual fun snow stuff.

I’ve been working hard in actually doing well for my classes. Finals are coming up (which also means winter break is coming up, hurray), so I’ve been stressing about upcoming exams, presentations and papers. Next week will be my “finals week,” so apologies in advanced if I do not come up with some magical post. As much as I love writing here (and I assure you, I do), I’d really like to pass my classes. That’d really be awesome.

Other than that, things have been kinda slow. It’s sort of “the calm before the storm” so I’ve been taking advantage of the time by… cramming for exams. So much for calm before the storm.

Currently Reading: An assortment of books on Kabuki Theatre
Currently Drinking: Mountain Dew
Currently Watching: Mononoke (subbed)
Current Mood: Tired. I can’t wait for winter break. I really can’t wait for winter break.

A couple days ago, I started (and finished) watching an anime called Toshokan Sensō (English Translation: Library Wars). The anime is situation in an alternate-universe Japan where a law called “The Media Betterment Act” allows censorship of various books to protect the Japanese public from “harmful media.” Through the Media Betterment Act (MBA), the government is allowed to use force (sometimes excessive) to censor media that is deemed harmful and to suppress the freedom of media/speech/expression. During the same year, however, the government developed the “Freedom of Libraries Law” (a far less known law) that protects libraries from prosecution from the MBA and allows for limited freedom of expression (through media). Out of this law, The Library Defense Force is created to protect the freedom of media by backing up copies of limited books, opening public libraries (that are free from MBA control) and aiding in the protection of books by preventing book burnings and helping transfer books from one library to another. Their jurisdiction, however, is limited only to libraries, and they are not government funded like Media Betterment Troops.

But this post is not supposed to be a review of the anime (which, by the way is very good; I highly suggest it to anyone who has a couple hours to kill). A lot of the anime has to do with allowing us the freedom to express ourselves and making sure the audience realizes that we shouldn’t take things like that for granted. Because we live in a society that expects the freedom of speech and press, we tend to take it for granted. Having the freedom to say, do, write and act as you want (so long as it isn’t detrimental to yourself or others), is a powerful resource. By taking it for granted, the American public has allowed the integrity of expression to fall to the wayside. Instead of using it as a tool to propel progressive thinking and new ideas, the freedom to express one’s beliefs has become a defense mechanism to protect disorganized thoughts and biased opinions, as if they were fact.

And it is because we take the freedom of expression for granted that we are unable to see the importance in our words and actions, especially with regards to expressing our beliefs. We don’t see the importance in our words, because we are free to say what we want. But we should realize that, by being able to say what we want, we are opening ourselves to a community that has as much right as we do to respond and counter-argue. It also means that we should own up and take responsibility for our words and expressions, and we should put more thought into what we’re actually expressing, saying or writing.

But the opposite has happened. Instead, we use the freedom to express as an excuse to say and do as we want. The freedom to express doesn’t mean that any moron can blabber their head off to the rest of society, and it certainly does not mean he (or she) is right, and it has never (and should never) be used as a tool for poorly written ideas and work. It ruins the integrity of innovative fields, fills the world with poorly written ideas and works and destroys the meaning of “Freedom of Expression.”

Is it so much to ask for people to think before they project their opinions, thoughts and comments to the rest of society? It is so much for people to consider their actions, or put a little effort into properly expressing themselves? Apparently so, because I’m sure there would be a barrage of people who will complain that they have every right to say that people can say what they want because they have the freedom of expression on their side.

Yes, the freedom of expression allows you to say what you want, but realizing that you CAN say what you want should encourage you to put some work into thinking about what you’re saying. Consider doing some research on your topic, take other opinions into account, WORK to really make use of the freedom of expression.

The poor and biased writing and expression of today’s society makes me wonder if the American public even deserves the Freedom of Expression. For every gem that comes out of free expression, tons of shit comes out. And no, this does not make the gem look any brighter. In fact, it simply just covers the gem up in shit, so that no one can find it. Not many people are willing to wad through a sea of disease-infested crap to find the one diamond, no matter how wonderful it (the diamond) may be.

Not only do we need to take advantage of the gift of free speech, but we must understand as US citizens and residents that the freedom of expression comes with the responsibility of self-education and a little common sense. Perhaps it just proves that we, as a society, are incapable of using this freedom in a responsible and mature way,