Friday, March 27, 2009

Traffic Camera = Unjust income for Cities

Guess what? The government wants more of your money, and no surprise, they are taking it. Many cities throughout the country have used traffic violations as a way to increase revenue for the city. To protect and serve is what it reads on the side of police cars these days. However, I think we need to reconsider who they are protecting and serving, maybe the city and themselves instead of the taxpaying citizens. Well, not only with the defecit in many city’s budgets, the increase in traffic violation citations, and additional cops patrolling, there is a new eye in the sky. Yes, the man is watching your every move! Just kidding, but they are watching your driving decisions.

An increase in traffic cameras at intersections is currently on the rise, and at an alarming rate. What necessarily do these cameras do? Well they are put at busy intersections in cities throughout the country in an effort to find those who run red lights,turn on no turn on reds, and those who speed. However, in a study conducted by the Highway and Traffic Safety Administration last July showed that only 5% of crashes were due to traveling to fast and 2% were caused by running red lights. Falling asleep at the wheel, adverse driving conditions and crossing the centerline were far much higher that those two. So why the need for these cameras??? To raise money for the city.

How it works is, when the person in question runs the red light, the camera stationed at the intersection takes a photograph of the license plate, and in some cases even the drivers face. Then, the information is processed at a third party organization (more detail coming soon) who then sends their information to the police where a citation is written and sent to the person in question to pay the fine. In an article from the Wall Street Journal shows, these third party organizations who monitor the cameras make roughly 5,000 dollars per camera per month. Is it really necessary to put the law in the hands of a third party? They also have systems set up over the highway that ticket people that are traveling 11 miles over the speed limit.

Many cities use the excuse that the cameras are put in place to raise safety in that particular area. However, is it really decreasing the single digit percentage of crashes from speeding and running red lights, or raising extra revenue for a city that has a budget deficit. Some cities have also bought a new technology that uses infrared lasers to read the license plate number of cars that pass the cop car, then searches through the database that lists people who haven’t paid their parking ticket so that the cop can impound the car.

Many people are outraged that local authorities are dropping to such a low level to increase their revenue. Police are put in place to protect and serve, not to enslave and tax. That is the reason that our founding fathers left Europe, to free themselves from harsh tax and unjust rule, so are we in the same boat again???

Bank CEOs meet with Obama

Ladies and Gentlemen, there is a situation concerning all of us far and wide throughout the land. A financial Crisis. Wait, we already knew that! However, the stars are aligning and the sea is parting for the path to the promise land. Besides our lovely President, Mr. Obama, speaking his usual line of change, emphasis on speaking....we are actually seeing some type of physical progress. Can’t exactly say which side organized the meeting, but I am leaning towards the banking side. Today, bank CEOs met today with Mr. Obama about the new regulations and concerns in the banking industry. Their biggest concern was to show them that they are there to cooperate.

As we all know, the banking industry is in a very low point. Credit is basically frozen for those whose credit score is below about 720 (considered excellent credit + 720). This is causing a problem for consumers especially with these record low interest rates on loans. Interest rates have been lowered to help boost spending and consumption, however, without people being able to get approved for these rates credit is near frozen. Also, with the amount of toxic assets being held on by the banks, unpaid debt lowers the amount that banks can afford to lend.

To help rectify the situation that exists currently, the White House is looking into more regulations on the banking industry. Quote from Mr. Obama, told by Mr. Gibbs, white house spokesman says "He had no agenda beyond working to get a solution, the right solution for our financial system, and to get it stabilized and working again for the American people," As we are lead further and further down the rabbit hole to socialism, bank CEOs met with Obama to discuss the further changes to come.

During the meeting, bank CEOs showed nothing but their main goal to cooperate with the government as we move towards a controlled and regulated economy. Whether this is to suck up and maybe hit up Obama with a cut of their yearly bonus, who knows. Basically, the main things that they are agreeing to cooperate with is the the additional rules and regulations soon to come, as well as toxic asset cleaning. Plans were revealed by the Treasury not too long ago about removing bad or toxic assets from banks balance sheets, thus reducing their debt. However, banks only plead that the rules and regulations are clearly revealed to them as well as in a fashionable quick time.

This really effects us as college students because we get to watch the voyage as we go from a capitalist country to a socialist economy. Free Market economies, which we are based off of, are meant to run with minimal government involvement. The problem doesn’t lie with the banks and the people, the problem occurred from the governments mistake of not taking care of fiscal policy and monetary policy during the economic boom around Y2K, after this boom peaked the ballon popped and We landed in the position that we are in today. Not because of loose regulations on the market.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Who throws a shoe??? Seriously

A shoe, a fitted device which we wear so gracefully upon our natural given walking devices, our feet. Many have thought of alternative ways to use this great invention that shelters our feet, however none have succeeded in a main stream alternative use for these tools we call shoes. Many attempts have been made, such as platform shoes that are also used to hold fish (70s era) and shoes that hold knives and with the tap of the heel, you reveal your secret weapon. However, one man has thought of a most interesting way to express his feelings with his shoe.

Who may this man be you wonder, well its the infamous, and ever great dumb shit, the shoe thrower. As an almighty higher force flowed power through his arm in an effort to swiftly carry out the command of disrespect, Muntadhar al-Zeidi threw his shoe at former President Bush. Well after an utter disgust feeling, I thought to my self, what the hell. Seriously who throws a shoe?

Well, apparently in the arabic culture, it is one of the highest insults for someone to see the bottom of your shoe, or even worse, get one thrown at you. Well, understanding that, may I wish my shoe thrower that the fleas of a thousand camels infest the area of his genitalia. Hows that for disrespect aye.

Its bad enough that the funny man threw the shoe, but what a coward. He throws it at a President who brought Iraq from a dictatorship, to a place that is trying to ring democracy through every town. Why not throw it at the person who was poisoning his own citizens in North Iraq, or the one who terrorized many to get what he wanted, Saddam Hussein. No, this funny man thinks that a radical leader, who took power by force and caused the suffering of many citizens to be better than leaders chosen by a common vote for the good they are to bring to the country.

This is why democracy fails, one bad egg spoils it all. The stench of those who destroy freedom lingers thought, destroying all efforts to bring good to a once terrorized state, highly controlled by the government. Having family in the military in Iraq, I have heard from them the actual progress that has been made, not media lies with hidden agendas. All you hear about from the media is bad, what went wrong here and there, as they strive towards achieving their hidden agendas, they never show the truth in progress. People are happy, that we have brought democracy, people spit on Saddam’s Statue when it was tore down, however there are still those who are loyal to the radical groups. These are the ones who bring down the efforts of freedom, and the ones you hear about on the news.

At least there has been a publicized progress for the Iraqi shoe thrower, he was convicted to three years in jail and he protested not guilty, but was convicted. Many Iraqi reporters near him attacked him to the floor along with security to show their disagreement with his actions on the day that this incident occurred. So just remember, you may show your disrespect by throwing a shoe, but may the fleas of a thousand camels infest your ass self of a person.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

American Express Pays Customers to Close Accounts

Buying on credit, that is the way of our generation as well as those of using this tool in the last 10 years. Everybody knows the drill, all you have to do is swipe, swipe, and oh pay your bill at the end of the month. However, within the past five years, people have become so dependent on their credit cards and its purchasing power. We set ourselves up for disaster, people’s income decreasing, loss of stocks and 401K values have caused our personal money supply to regress.

Many people have used this as a cane, to help them with the struggle, but at the end of the month are unable to pay the bill. This has been a large reason for the banking industry’s decline, consumers defaulting on credit. Many companies are now offering incentives for high risk customers to pay their remaining balance and close the accounts, in an effort to protect creditors from loss.

One of these companies in particular is American Express, the “never leave home without it” card. Starting about a decade ago, AmEx started an effort to expand their customer base (cardholders). Going from 65 million credit card holders in 2004 to 92 million credit card holders in 2009, they have definitely succeeded in their efforts to expand. However, all of this expansion has increased their risk level. Their risk includes those who purchase, but don’t pay (default) on their loan.

The way the credit card companies operate, is they pay for the purchase initially, and then the end of the month comes, and you pay for the product(s) in the back-end. Some charge an interest even if you pay it by the end of the month, however most companies do not charge interest if the full balance is paid by the due date. The only time one would incur interest is if a balance is remaining on the card, this is where the company makes its money, by charging interest.

Now that is where the risk comes into play for the creditors. When they pay for immediate purchase, then the customer defaults on the back-end payment. Therefore the company is out the money that they fronted for the purchase of the good(s). This has caused a lot of lost money for the banking industry. Resolution, is easy, offer incentives to customers to close accounts during this rough time. This will decrease the level of possible consumers that go into default on their payments.

What AmEx has proposed for customers is very simple, pay your balance off, close the account and we will give you three hundred dollars. With many accounts at AmEx going into default, they must use something to decrease the amount of balances unpaid. May seem all good and dandy, but consumers must make this decision wisely when deciding to close out their account. If it is a card that they have held responsibly for a lengthy period of time, it is a large contributor to their credit score, removing this asset may possibly lower their score. The other thing to be aware of, it that some companies may impose a time limit on which this offer stands valid. Therefore it is imperative that consumers must read the fine print to determine all of the rules and regulations of the offers stated.

This may not be the deal for you, however, many consumers are looking for a way to get rid of excess debt, so why not pay off your AmEx bill and get paid 300 dollars to do it in the process. Just remember, that it may be a limited time offer, it may effect your credit score, as well as may take a chunk out of your pocket.