Sunday, September 17, 2017

Paying Bill For Harvey And Irma Storm Damage

As Expected, Mobile-homes Suffered Much Damage
In life, we are faced with many choices and one of those has to do with where we choose to live. Across the globe, people have matriculated towards the water and the coastline is often considered prime real estate. This often makes it the most valuable and sought-after land on the planet. With the choice to live on or near the coast comes certain risks and dangers, however, if where a large number of people have chosen to live is any indication most people agree it is worth the risk. If you choose to live in "Paradise" you should be responsible for the cost of doing so by paying the taxes and fees associated with such a lifestyle.

Tiny Ships Were Tossed, As Expected!
In just a matter of weeks, America has witnessed both the major flood damage of Hurricane Harvey upon Texas and the toll Hurricane Irma took on Florida. After Hurricane Irma overwhelmed the Florida Keys, a long ribbon of low-lying islands linked by bridges, with 15-foot storm surges and 130 mph winds, federal officials' first assessment of the damage suggests that nearly a quarter of the homes on the island were destroyed. “Basically every house in the Keys was impacted in some way or another,” Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator, Brock Long, said at a news conference. This emphasis the fact that while not every home is beyond repair it appears few if any escaped some form of damage. All in all, this has been a difficult time for those living in these areas.

Not seeking to appear cold-hearted I'm forced to admit that as a person living a great distance from Paradise I have a problem getting stuck with the bill for massive hurricane damage. Unlike certain natural disasters that are very unpredictable, hurricanes can affect a wide and massive area, but we know which areas are prone to such a storm and warning is sounded days before the event. I argue, aid is one thing but footing the bill for rebuilding an area prone to the ravages of these storms is well beyond the call of duty. When we look beyond not just rebuilding but towards rebuilding better and upgrading aging infrastructure to lessen the impact of future storms I certainly must scream foul.

A Word To The Wise, Move Your Car To High Ground!
This is not saying the infrastructure does not need to be upgraded but that it should be funded by those in the region that harvest the benefits of such an investment. Another reason I get unexcited about the idea of paying for much of this damage is that a great deal of it is the result of poor planning. One such example of poor planning is to place a mobile-home in the probable path of such storms and to think it will go unmoved or unscathed. While you might be kind and not call such a notion "stupid" I argue that you are tempting fate or rolling the dice to place such a structure full of your most precious belongings in the likely path of a hurricane without taking insurance for such an occurrence.

The issue of flood insurance deserves its own article because of the complexity of the subject, however, these storms highlight the need for reforming NFIP, the National Flood Insurance Program and represent another growing political crisis for lawmakers that has been years in the making. “We need to make sure that the flood insurance program is solvent now — it's already working on borrowed money. Make it solvent, make it affordable so people can buy it,” said Rep. Ted Poe, a Republican whose home state of Texas is slowly rebuilding from the devastation of Hurricane Harvey last month.

It must be noted that more than half of the homeowners in Hurricane Irma’s direct path lack flood insurance, according to a recent study by The Associated Press. The fact is many people don't buy this insurance because they feel it is too expensive. Rep. Brian Babin (R-Texas) said, Congress is sending legislation to the White House that would extend the NFIP through Dec. 8. This is important because the program is $25 billion in debt, and its borrowing authority may be exceeded by claims from Hurricane Harvey, let along Hurricane Irma. This means and so I must underline it, the National Flood Insurance Program is already a money loser which makes it difficult to reduce the cost to those seeking coverage.

When we consider that every time the federal government passes a bill and spends money each billion dollars spent represents roughly three dollars that must be raised from every man, woman, and child in America. This means anything in the way of an expensive "pork-filled" flood relief bill will rapidly become painful for taxpayers. Remember many people pay no taxes which means this "assessment" falls only upon those that do. If Washington in its wisdom is generous to the tune of a three hundred fifty billion dollar relief bill for both storms together it represents over one thousand dollars coming from everyone living in America to aid those affected areas in rebuilding. To many people this is unaffordable.

Most people draw a sharp distinction between living on the coast of Florida and within the Houston area, and they should.  The latter is more associated with the image of a working town, however, both are at near sea-level and prone to flooding. While it may be politically incorrect to say it, people in these areas have a responsibility to do everything in their power to take the steps that will minimize their loss. God helps those who help themselves, this is why it was not surprising that mainstream media interviews during Harvey were often with the same people who were victims of Hurricane Katrina even though only twenty-five to forty thousand of these former New Orleans residents reside in the greater Houston area of close to seven million people. Bottom-line when it comes to sending help, absolutely, but as for taking responsibility for rebuilding either area, not my monkey, not my circus.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Former BIS Chief - "System Dangerously Unanchored"

Former BIS Chief - "System Dangerously Unanchored"
Former chief economist of the Bank for International Settlements, William White, told Bloomberg TV recently that "the system is dangerously unanchored." This is not the first time White has issued a warning that global financial markets were not on sound footing. Underlining his grave concern the former chairman of the Economic and Development Review Committee at OECD, stated the current situation "looks very similar to 2008," He then added that OECD sees "more dangers" today than in 2007. Even as stock markets across the world continue to set new records and make all time new highs we should see this as an acknowledgment all is not well.
White voiced his concerns such as prices being very high, in particular for high-yield assets and equities, VIX at very low levels, and house prices are rising strongly. What stood out in my mind was his indication that central banks cannot or will not be able to solve what might be seen as a growing "liquidity problem." The idea that we have too much debt and we have a debt resolution or insolvency problem that only governments can address is a huge reason for concern as governments have a poor history when it comes to addressing such issues in a fair manner. It is no small matter deciding how to handle an avalanche of bankruptcies and defaults.

It should be noted that White has voiced many of these concerns for some time, in January of 2016 the Telegraph reported White said, "The only question is whether we are able to look reality in the eye and face what is coming in an orderly fashion, or whether it will be disorderly. Debt jubilees have been going on for 5,000 years, as far back as the Sumerians." He then made it clear a major task awaiting the global authorities is how to manage debt write-offs - and therefore a massive reordering of winners and losers in society - without setting off a political storm.

Global Debt Has Grown Much Faster Than GDP
During that interview, White pointed out that Europe's creditors are likely to face some of the biggest haircuts. European banks have already admitted to $1 trillion of non-performing loans and are heavily exposed to emerging markets. This indicates they are almost certainly rolling over other bad debts that have never been disclosed. I must again reiterate that situation has yet to be addressed and that the European banking system will most likely have to be recapitalized on a scale yet unimagined. The new "bail-in" rules mean that any deposit holder above the guarantee of €100,000 will have to help pay for it.

White said stimulus from quantitative easing and zero rates by the big central banks after the Lehman crisis have been leaking out across Asia and emerging markets. This has stoked credit bubbles and a surge in dollar borrowing that is difficult to control in a world of free capital flows. The bottom-line is that even more countries have now been drawn into debt. Combined public and private debt has surged to all-time highs in both emerging markets and for those in the OECD since the top of the last credit cycle in 2007. QE and easy money policies by the US Federal Reserve and its peers have had the effect of bringing spending forward from the future in what is known as "inter-temporal smoothing," this has become a toxic addiction over time and no longer has the traction it once had. In the end, the future catches up with you. This makes it easy to argue that central banks have only postponed the inevitable by continuing to print money and expanding the monetary base.

Among the slew of issues currently facing the global economy White noted:

  • India’s debt problems, these go back a long way and include governance issues including those at state-owned banks.
  • China’s debt situation that is rapidly growing and credit expansion that indicates maybe some of these loans won’t be repaid or serviced.
  • Central banks printing money is not the solution to growing liquidity problems  
  • The world needs more fiscal expansion, structural reforms, and also have to look closely at debt write-off and to recapitalize some financial institutions.
  • The mix of income that goes to capital versus labor in many countries needs to be addressed
  • Central bank tightening is inevitable yet problematic 

The warnings from White should carry a special gravitas since Mr. White was one of the very few voices in the central banking fraternity who stated loudly and clearly between 2005 and 2008 that the financial system and global economy had become compromised. Like many of those who have witnessed debt exploding, I agree that governments have failed to address or make the necessary structural reforms which would lead to a more sustainable economy. I like many economy watchers find it disingenuous that after years of pursuing an unorthodox policy of monetary expansion which has distorted markets and failed to produce real growth that central banks may soon start pointing fingers. Clearly, during times when hope was high and central banks claimed they had the answers such blame games took a backseat to their arrogance and hubris.

Footnote; We cannot underestimate the importance currencies play in a stable economy. Wild swings in the value of a currency have a major impact on the wealth of those holding it. The article below delves into some of what we are seeing play out currently in the market.

Monday, September 11, 2017

The Allure Of Illusions - Five Favorite Financial Myths

The reality of "Facts" Blow Myths Apart!
Have you ever wondered why so many people find magic alluring? It seems many of us are drawn to a good illusion and this proves true for most people in their daily life as well. The problem is whether simply too lazy to question what they see or lacking the imagination to pull back the curtain to reveal the truth they often choose to accept what is presented to them as reality rather than go to the effort to seek more. A myth is often defined as any invented story, idea, or concept, an imaginary or fictitious thing, or an unproved or false collective belief that is used to justify a social institution. The entertainment industry has flourished as society seeks any diversion to pull our attention away from the sharp edges of reality and into the soft comfort of escape. This may be the result of past experiences where we have learned, we can't handle the truth! 

In some ways, it could be said that our culture has become obsessed with avoiding what is real. The crux of this article is about some of our society's favorite myths that feed directly into the economy and how we feel about our financial security. While it could be argued these have more to do with how we feel about life it cannot be denied that most people make many of their financial decisions based on the assumption the below statements are true. As a society, we rapidly choose to embrace and often choose not to question them because of the discomfort it would undoubtedly create. Sure many other myths exist or you can slice and dice them in other ways but the five below are very common and should be enough to remind you and even shed a bit of light upon the fact we are vulnerable at any time to having reality raise its' ugly head.

Believing Myths Is A Head In Sand Approach
Government is for the people and by the people - Seriously? After the dog and pony show, we experienced during the last presidential primary all illusions of that should have been erased. It left us with choosing the least of two evils. After all the talk about "we the people" the fact is the average "person" is far removed from the power to decide important issues.

Financial planning means you only have to start saving a little money each year to guarantee an easy retirement.  - The fact is life is a casino where our future is tenuous at best. Much of our circumstances and lives revolve around money and the number of options it gives us when we possess it. I intentionally used the term "casino" to conjure up the image of financial fortune. Which you can lose in a blink of an eye if things go against you. This myth includes things such as the promises made by the government and others such as pension plans and financial institutions will indeed be honored.

You have rights and that we are not slaves - I defer to a few lines from a blog by Gerry Spence who has spent his lifetime representing and protecting victims of the legal system from what he calls The New Slave Master: big corporations and big government. In his blog, Spence wrote; The Moneyed Master has closed its doors against the people and sits on its money like an old hen on rotten eggs. The people will not prevail. With its endless propaganda the Moneyed Master has caused its slaves to believe they are free.

Your life will progress and move along pretty much as you have planned - When you think back over the years of your life if you are like most people things have not unfolded as you had planned. You may not be in the occupation you trained for or with your true love. Throughout our life watershed events occur that we have little control over, this holds true when it comes to your finances as well. Things such as having an investment or pension plan go south can be very unsettling. The thought that things could be worse does not mean they will become so, this is a reason to count your blessings. 

Those in charge or above you care about you and will protect you -  Well of this we can hope but more than one person has been sliced and diced by the people he or she trusted most. History shows when push comes to shove it is not uncommon for a person to look out for the person they treasure the most and that is often him or her self. Politicians and those in power tend to throw people under the bus rather than rise up and take responsibility for the problems they create.

My apologies if this post has been a downer or seems overly negative, however, it is what it is and it was written for a reason. Best stated by a comment I read on another site, these myths add up to where "This is not a can of worms but a warehouse stacked with pallets of cans of worms."  Because of how believing the above myths can impact our lives it is important we recognize their existence. This is not to say that we cannot by making good and reasonable choices eliminate much of the risk we encounter by just getting out of bed each morning. Developing the habit of pressing on and forward to complete solid and reasonable goals is the best medicine to combat a deck that is often stacked against us. Be careful out there!

Footnote; Most investors think that even if things go downhill fast that they will be smart enough to get out of the markets. After the debacle in 2008 where they saw the market take nasty and violent swings they learned a few things, this time, they figure they will get out early.
A scenario exists where the market falls like a flash crash on steroids and investors are trapped. Circuit breakers have been put in place to arrest panic style moves but if trade is halted, and the market simply does not reopen for days or even weeks suddenly it is a new game. As remote as this might seem the article below explores this possibility and the far-reaching ramifications.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Walmart Gave, Target Gave, Amazon Gouged!

Irma Has Obliterated Entire Islands
When things get tough that is when you find out who your friends are. In a heartwarming commercial, Walmart paints a picture of America coming together supporting those who are seeing their lives washed away by Hurricane Harvey. The eyes of a nation are now turning towards Florida where Hurricane Irma is bearing down with category 5 winds and companies like Walmart and Target are queuing up to give back to the communities that support their stores.

Meanwhile, is taking heat for increasing prices on basic supplies ahead of the hurricane’s landfall in Florida. The fact they jumped the cost of water has drawn the most ire. Kate Taylor of Business Insider reports, customers took to Twitter to share screenshots of water from various brands — for example, Aquafina and NestlĂ© — priced roughly between $20 and $25 per case. Usually, the same cases of water sell for between $4 and $8, this means that the screenshots demonstrate Amazon is gouging customers for about 500 to 625 per cent.

Amazon is a self-promoting hype machine that is far from transparent and while politicians fall over themselves to be in its shadow it is not our friend. Because of its massive advertising budget and other ties to Amazon, we find the media often seems to be in bed with Amazon and fall all over themselves to portray the company as both the flavor of the day and the future of commerce.  This means you seldom hear anything bad about the retail behemoth turning the articles put before us into nothing more than free advertising. These so-called "news articles" are often spun to place Amazon in the most flattering light, however, for more about this under reported story about price gouging see below.

  1. News about Amazon Hurricane Gouging
    Amazon is removing excessively priced bottled water from its marketplace after being accused of price gouging, as thousands of Americans prepare for the deadly Hurricane Irma to make landfall …
    Amazon is under fire for reportedly inflating prices as Floridians prepare for Hurricane Irma. With local grocery stores selling out of basics such as water and other …
    Amazon Shoppers Complain of Price-Gouging During Hurricane Irma
    As Hurricane Irma barrels down on Florida, residents are complaining that some Amazon sellers are jacking up the price of emergency supplies prior to the disaster. …
  2. Amazon faces complaints of price gouging ahead of Irma ...

    CBS News2 days ago
    Amazon (AMZN) may be in hot water with consumers over the price of water. Some are reporting sharply higher prices for bottled water on Amazon as Hurricane Irma ...
  3. Amazon is under fire for reported Hurricane Irma price ...
    Amazon is under fire for reported Hurricane Irma price gouging, with 'life-sustaining necessities' selling for wildly inflated prices
  4. Amazon Is Accused Of Serious Price Gouging As Hurricane ... · 17 hours ago
    Sep 07, 2017 · People Are Accusing Amazon Of Price Gouging As Hurricane Irma Approaches. The site is closely monitoring and removing any listings that "substantially ...
  5. Amazon Shoppers Complain of Price-Gouging During Hurricane ...

    FORTUNE23 hours ago
    Sep 07, 2017 · As media reports of Irma price gouging began to surface, Amazon initially denied any price spikes were taking place.
  6. Amazon under fire for reported hurricane price gouging

    World Net Daily15 hours ago
    (AOL News) Amazon is under fire for reportedly inflating prices as Floridians prepare for Hurricane Irma. With local grocery stores selling out of basics such as ...
  7. Amazon accused of price gouging those in the destruction ...
    Sep 07, 2017 · As Florida prepares for Hurricane Irma and local stores run out of supplies, the prices of essentials like bottled water have been rising sharply on Amazon ...
  8. Amazon Accused Of Gouging Hurricane Victims - Speed Wealthy
    Amazon Accused Of Gouging Hurricane Victims - Speed Wealthy , Learn how to make money from home! Be your own boss and start work for your future today! Check our ...
  9. Amazon Accused Of Gouging Hurricane Victims - YouTube
    Amazon is under fire for reported Hurricane Irma price gouging, with 'life-sustaining necessities' selling for wildly inflated pricesSep 06, 2017 · This feature is not available right now. Please try again later.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Uninsured Will Get A Rude Awakening Post Harvey

We hear that eighty percent of those in the Houston area suffering losses from flood damage do not have insurance coverage to cover their loss. Many of those people who failed to buy flood insurance will find themselves in a bit of financial pain after the storm clouds clear. The pain may be particularly harsh on two groups that society has come to depend on, the small business owners and all those private landlords that create competition in the rental market. These are the people that serve society by keeping rates lower than they would be if the market was controlled by only a few large players. Neither of these groups tend to be hoity-toity but are generally made up of hard working people that often have borrowed money to build a better future. And yes, these groups often fall into those who have passed on flood insurance because they felt it was too expensive.

For Businesses Not In Flood Plain Insurance Is Very Costly
When it comes to the owners of small businesses many of them will receive an oversized dose of misery. Not only do they face weeks where they have no income but if they carry accounts on their books, also known as receivables, many of their customers may not be able to pay. On top of this, they may suffer from having to trash inventory damaged or destroyed. In many cases for a business with little capital, this will be the final chapter and it will never reopen which creates a whole new slew of problems. This will, of course, play out over not just days or weeks but over years. This is a mess built to linger.

Uninsured Landlords Face Extra Challenge
Many landlords in Houston and surrounding areas will also be dealt a cruel hand when the waters recede and Harvey has left the area. Not only will they find their property damaged they will wake to find their tenants have simply walked away from all their flood soaked belongings and obligations. This means their now "former" landlord will face the herculean task of disposing of all the things they left behind before confronting cleaning up and rebuilding. It should be noted that renters also had little incentive to minimize damage. For landlords, this means months without rental income or even joining the large group of people that default on loans.

The bottom-line is life in Houston is about to be changed forever as the rains from Harvey have washed away any illusions that this may never happen again. Houston is prone to flooding and simply has no place to put massive amounts of rainfall. As far as all the money promised and flowing into the area from both government and different groups intent on helping those who have suffered a loss the fact is that when all is said and done it often gets diverted into a few pockets and not necessarily to where it will be most effective. As for the uninsured, I expect a "trickle down effect" will mean the pain is at least spread about. The financial burden will affect even those living far far away because as Americans we will be called to contribute to their plight through a huge disaster relief bill that may be near two hundred billion dollars.

Footnote;  In a more recent article, I argue, aid is one thing but footing the bill for rebuilding areas prone to the ravages of storms such as Hurricanes Harvey and Irma are well beyond the call of duty. The article below delves into how much this might cost the average taxpayer.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Hurricane Sandy Relief Bill Was Filled With Pork

Not justification For A Bill Filled With Pork!
Memories of the 2013, Hurricane Sandy relief Bill that was filled with pork has started a new debate to form. People are already beginning to wonder if something similar will come out of Washington to help those paddling around Houston,Texas. Back then a great deal of criticism was thrown at the politicians for partisan politics and the delay in getting the bill through. The three articles below focus on the pork and why some lawmakers voted against it.
  1. Ted Cruz: 2013 hurricane relief bill 'filled with pork'

    News 4 Jax1 day ago
    On Monday, Sen. Ted Cruz defended fellow Republicans who voted "nay" on a 2013 Hurricane Sandy relief bill -- calling the legislation a "bill filled with pork."
  2. Obama Sandy aid bill filled with holiday goodies unrelated ...
    Dec 15, 2012 · WASHINGTON — President Obama’s $60.4 billion request for Hurricane Sandy ... Obama Sandy aid bill filled with holiday goodies unrelated to ... pork ...
  3. Sen. Cruz on Sandy Relief Package: 'Filled With Unrelated ...
    Aug 28, 2017 · ... after snubbing Hurricane Sandy disaster ... rejecting a bill to aid those hurt by Sandy, ... bill that was filled with unrelated pork.

My reaction to what was passed back then was the article below that I published on Saturday, January 5, 2013. The article was originally written right after Congress had rolled over and passed a pork filled permanent tax relief package. At the time I expected that they would draw a line in the sand concerning this wasteful bill but the big ugly $60 billion pig passed. This only proves that even as America suffered under the weight of a massive deficit the only thing you can count on is for our Congress to do the wrong thing, and spend more than necessary. Do not be surprised if the same thing occurs when it comes to Texas today.

   Delayed "Sandy Aid Bill" is A Porker          January 2013

Much like the big mouthed Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey, the aid bill coming out of the Senate was massive. Claims by the media that Christie's criticism of Congress for delaying a pork filled bill resonated with voters may have been exaggerated as the super-sized claims that Republicans are still engaged in a media stimulated love fest with Christie. The fact is Christie is just another flawed politician that the media has tried to paint as the "savior" of the Republican party, in this case by honing in on his plan spoken style and tendency to call it "as he sees it"

The Governor said it was "disappointing and disgusting" to watch Congress postpone Sandy relief legislation. "There's only one group to blame for the continued suffering of these innocent victims, the House majority and their speaker, John Boehner." Christie said he called Boehner four times on Wednesday night to urge action, but the call wasn't picked up. He went on to say "National disasters happen in red states and blue states." he claimed history shows that "We respond to innocent victims of natural disasters, not as Republicans or Democrats but as Americans – or at least we did until last night."  Christie failed to acknowledge that much of the problem is because House Republicans proposed a bill of only $27 billion in aid rather than the $60 billion plus bill passed in the Democratically controlled Senate.

Many Republicans in Congress said that the Sandy aid bill contained billions of dollars in spending on projects unrelated to damage caused by the storm or for long-term infrastructure improvements that should compete with other discretionary spending. Among expenditures criticized was $150 million to rebuild fisheries, including those in the Gulf Coast and even in Alaska, thousands of miles from Sandy's devastation, and $2 million to repair roof damage that pre-dates the storm on Smithsonian Institution buildings in Washington. As usual, there are few details on which expenditures must be considered immediate disaster needs and addressed. Senate Republicans tried to shrink the $60.4 billion package to $24 billion for near-term projects, but this was defeated in the Democratic-controlled chamber.

The problem is the bill brought before the House was a porker, full of fat gifts that America cannot afford. At a time that America is sporting a deficit of close to 1.5 trillion dollars, we don't need this. Simple math shows that the 60 billion dollar price tag on this legislation means 180 dollars for every man, woman, and child in America. For a family of four that comes to 720 dollars. We all know that the 47 million Americans on food stamps will find coming up with the money to pay their share as somewhat daunting. Our lawmakers in Washington and Gov. Christie should do the math, while a small part of the overall budget, yes every 60 billion dollars does matter!

Monday, August 28, 2017

Houston, You Have A Problem!

Flooding In Houston Leaves Many With Few Options
The catastrophic flooding triggered by Tropical Storm Harvey inundating Houston in early estimates is expected to tally between 25 and 50 billion dollars, it could go much higher. Sadly, many people will find their insurance doesn't cover much of the damage to their property. In all reality, the Federal government will prove to be relatively ineffective and not much help in this crisis that covers a large area and affects tens of millions of Americans. Anyone who has even experienced the frustrations caused by a bad storm with power outages and such will tell you most help comes from nearby and government is not the answer. People who adopt the attitude that they are a victim following a real disaster and then simply wait for the government to arrive to set things straight risk should be prepared for disappointment. 
High profile incidents covered by the media often reassures the public that the government stands ready to rush to our aid in case of a national disaster. Following a tornado or hurricane in the news, we often see FEMA workers spread out and moving from door to door offering help to Americans in need. This reassuring media coverage is misleading. Be prepared that in the case of a major crisis or disaster if you find yourself in a large area of devastation the government will not rapidly arrive as your savior. This means if and when a really large Armageddon event does occur people will quickly become acutely aware that God helps those who help themselves.
During A Real Disaster, Help Will Be Hard To Find

The trend of pandering to victims that we have seen develop over the years may be a result of the battering former President Bush took in opinion polls following Hurricane Katrina. The pictures that the media posted following a slow response in handling Katrina haunt his administration and paint Bush as being insensitive and out of touch with the plight of poor Americans. At what point did government become responsible for dispensing sorrow and grief?  With the bar to show concern set at its current level little gets done in Washington.

Somehow the President has in a media driven world mistakenly adopted the role of consoler in chief and is expected to pour forth sympathy and cast out concern for every American following incidents of destruction or violence. It does not matter if it is an accident, shooting, or some natural disaster, in recent years all this has reached new heights where even in the case of a few deaths it is not uncommon to see the President leaping upon Air Force One and rushing to the scene to sympathize with families and friends. In this politically correct world, it has even gone so far as to the President being expected to weigh in as to minor tragedies that occur throughout the world.

It should be noted that much time is wasted performing these acts that could be better used and focused on solving many of the real and pressing problems that face America. In reality, this pandering is a major disservice to Americans in that it fosters the impression that government will be there for you if you ever get into a pickle or jam. While reassuring to many the false illusion of a competent and effective government ready to come to your aid comes at the cost of raising unrealistic expectations. I suspect that with the formation of the massive Homeland Security Agency this may be a case of reassuring the masses that their tax money has not been wasted.

A perfect example would be the government's reaction to the Boston Marathon bombing. It was overwhelming but in the end, it was a homeowner checking the tarp on his boat noticing a spot of blood and not the thousands of law enforcement officers that brought the manhunt to an end. No matter how much planning is spent it is silly to think someone can quickly rush to an area they are totally unfamiliar with and institute actions to efficiently solve massive problems. Do not be fooled, in the case of a real disaster the government is generally not very effective, the real help will come from your neighbors, this has been the case throughout history. The bottom-line is that if you are waiting for government help you may be dead before it arrives.