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Mar

28

Cyprus Banks Had the Right Idea

By admin

Can we trust the banks with our money? Fifty years ago, anyone raising such a question was considered a paranoid lunatic. One hundred years ago, the question had some legitimacy behind it, as lots of folks did not yet trust banks. Many people who lived through the great depression in the 1930’s in the U.S. understandably became mattress stuffers, having seen bank failures actually happen. Here we are in the year 2013, living in the digital money age where cash is a rapidly vanishing entity, and we once again must wonder about our money being safe in the bank. It appears we have come full circle.

The situation in Cyprus seems far enough removed to not cause many Americans to have sleepless nights. Of course, it really isn’t as far removed as it seems. Repercussions in Italy and Greece are likely. From there, who knows what could happen. We all know this, but we don’t let it upset us too much. In this day and age, we are just thankful our own highly questionable financial system is still somehow holding together. Better there than here.

Can’t you just picture Jimmy Stewart behind the counter of the Cyprus banks telling the people, “You’re thinking about this place all wrong! Your money isn’t here, it’s in Dimitris’ house and Christos’ house and Giorgos’ house!” Only, that’s not the way it works in modern banks. These days, home mortgages are sold to specific mortgage holding companies who service them. Your deposited money should be in the bank.

…just not in cash. Banks don’t have that much cash on hand. It’s not in gold, either. The money is all just digits in a computer database. You can get some cash, of course, but it’s best if you just keep using your cards and adjusting the balance of those numbers. Hey, you can always close your account and transfer it all to another bank and look at those same numbers on different letterhead – assuming, of course, you even bother to receive paper statements anymore.

So, when the mobs hoard the Cyprus banks upon their reopening, nobody can get more than 300 bucks per day. They cannot transfer more than five grand out of the country. They can, however, close their accounts and transfer it all to a different bank within the country of Cyprus – which will seem like an exercise in futility. All of this is to prevent a run on the banks. A bank run is a mob mentality that has the very real potential for igniting an unnecessary financial crisis.

Here is my take on the entire situation:

As usual, the problem does not lie in the mechanics of how things are operating, but in the reaction of the human mind. Our resistance to change and tendency to overreact to negative-seeming developments is what causes most of our problems. The Cyprus banks came up with a very reasonable solution to thwart off a massive financial crisis. They were going to take 10% of all deposited funds in the banks. Everybody kicks in 10% of whatever they have. Problem solved, and everyone gets to keep living their wonderful little life on a Mediterranean island. (This is especially reasonable considering that your 10% would be paid for in less than three years at the 5% interest rate Cyprus banks currently pay depositors. You are still better off there, after paying the bailout assessment, than you are having your money is USA banks.)

But noooooooooooo. They had to go get all up in arms about it. Now the banks are being forced to do something different, something much more conspicuous. They will be shamefully robbing the wealthy and upper-middle class instead. Instead of everyone paying their fair share, large depositors will now lose up to 40% of their balances to pay for the bailout. This is a much worse solution for many reasons, but the main one is the large depositors will be pulling all the rest of their funds out of that country just as soon as they are able. Count on it. This sets up a condition which could very well result in real bank failures in the near future. The bulk of the wealth will be removed.

Folks, if the choice is to pay 10% of your money or risk complete financial ruin, the correct answer is to pay the 10% and go back to your happy life where the currency is still good and a loaf of bread doesn’t cost a wheelbarrow full of cash. Whining and complaining your way to making those richer than you pay for it, and driving them all out of your economy as a result, leaves you on an island of only poor and destitute whiners and complainers.

Jan

23

Parent Kidnappings Cry Wolf

By admin

Parent kidnapping is an oxymoron that is on the rise in our society. This is definitely a sign that our culture has hit the skids. Those of you around in the 1950’s or 1960’s would never have heard of such a thing back then. The very idea would have been absurd. How can a parent kidnap their own child? Not possible. And to some degree, that holds true today – at least from a logical viewpoint.

But not from a legal one. And because most people will gravitate towards the logical viewpoint in their mind, it tends to defeat the legal one. This is because the cry wolf effect reduces public aid for law enforcement.

A good example of this concept is car alarms. When you hear one go off, what is your first reaction? Do you run out towards the car to stop the thief? More than likely you are annoyed at the knucklehead that owns that car, as obviously they did something to trip the alarm (such as open the door before disarming it). I like to imagine a car thief during broad daylight in a crowded city area running into no resistance because everyone assumes he is the owner.

Where I live there is something called an Amber Alert. This was developed a few years ago due the rising rate of kidnappings in our wonderful state. The way it works is, a witness to a kidnapping (or anyone who has any information about a suspected kidnapping) gives a description of the car and/or kidnapper to the police, relatively quickly after the incidence takes place. An Amber Alert with this description then interrupts every radio and television broadcast in the area as an attempt to get public help.

It’s a good idea, it has worked, and no doubt saved a few kid’s lives. But what has been happening recently is that they are using it for parent kidnappings. Meaning that a parent who is involved in a nasty divorce takes the kid when they are not supposed to, or perhaps even the reporting parent simply does an Amber Alert on their ex-spouse as their retaliation for whatever spat they are having that day.

So responsible citizens who perk up at the amber alert, ready to take notes and keep an eye out for the vehicle, hear that the suspect is the child’s mother or father and then just say oh and completely disregard it. It ends up becoming a waste of a great emergency tactic. By allowing parent kidnappings to be included in Amber Alerts the effectiveness is greatly reduced. Pretty soon we all start thinking another parent kidnapping every time we start to hear an amber alert and pay no attention anymore. It’s really too bad.

Papa Riah

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Dec

7

Teenage Girls are Trouble

By admin

If you are the parent of teenage girls, or girls who will soon become teenagers, you have my sympathy. Unless they have their heart set on becoming nuns, you are going to have your hands full. Even if you think you are doing a good job as a parent and have perfect little princess teenage girls, you can never really be sure. They are not about to tell you all about their developing hormones and what goes on in their social circles. It’s a safe bet that they have a certain part of their lives and thinking which they would just die if their parents ever found out about.

After all you were the same way when you were a teenager, regardless of your gender. Your kids are going to be no different. No matter how much you tighten the reigns they will find ways to act out as irresponsible teenagers (who think they should be able to make the same decisions that adults get to). The only difference between them and adults is the system society has bounded them by, in their view. And they will take every opportunity presented to them, no matter how brief, to break those bonds and express their independence.

Papa Riah is fortunate enough never to have been the parent of a teenage girl. I inherited a step-daughter who was well past that stage when I got involved in the deal. However Mama Riah tells me all the time of her efforts in that era. Basically she was the most strict parent in the world when it came to letting her daughter out of her site, but the most generous when she had control of exactly what she was doing. Because her daughter was very popular in high school, her garage became the hangout for her click. All her friends used to tease her when the street lights came on as that was when she usually had to be home.

Does that sound like a little too much? Well this girl so respects her upbringing that she constantly affirms to her mom that she will be raising her own children the same exact way. And she is the most well-adjusted person I have ever met, in spite of coming from a broken family.

It all starts well before the teenage years of course. If you are letting your 5-year old run your household, it’s a pretty safe bet that you will have major problems with them as a teenager. Have you seen Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory? Remember the spoiled brat little girl? Now how do you think she would have been as a teenager? You can expect some phone calls from the police during the teenage years if you are going to allow your little girl to act like that at a young age.

Looking around when you are out in public, you will no doubt notice that teenage girls who are unescorted by parents seem to be magnets for trouble. Especially ones who are apparently aware of their recent transformation into the adult-looking female form. They are throwing it out there as bait in the water, just to see how many different species of fish are interested in it – completely unaware or unconcerned of the dangers associated with this behavior. They are discovering themselves in a way that puts their very lives in danger, and flat-out don’t care.

Much too often in our society does an adult male well into his twenties find himself approached and tempted by a teenage girl who is 16 or 17 years of age. This is a dangerous situation for the guy, the girl, and the parents of the girl. But it’s something that happens all the time out there and the parents of the girl have no idea what’s going on. This is trouble. And this trouble is started by the promiscuous teenage girl, not the happy-go-lucky guy who becomes ensnared in the trap.

I’m sure you have noticed that anytime you drive by a teenage girl who is less than moderately dressed and you happen to innocently glance in her direction, she is always looking back at you. Now how can that be? It can only be because these girls are looking through the windshield at the driver of every car that drives by. If you happen to be a male less than retirement age, their gaze will stay with you longer than just a quick glance. Why? Because teenage girls are trouble. Real trouble. Good luck with your daughters, America.

Papa Riah.