Wednesday, June 25, 2008
I took my car to the shop this morning. It was having a few problems—the A/C wasn’t blowing cold air any more and there was a distinct squeak coming from the right front side—and needed an oil change and a new serpentine belt, so I figured it was time for it to go in. I took it to P.A.T. and they were pretty cool about it. Not only did they give me a free taxi ride from their shop to my office and a free return trip, but (because I made an appointment) they also had my car finished at around 4:00 PM.
Of course, just because I got my car back doesn’t mean it was all good news. The air conditioning system seems to have a leak that they couldn’t find today, so they added dye to the coolant and we’ll find out when the cooling stops being so good where the leak is. The squeak is gone, but in its place is a diagnosis: all four ball joints need replacing. Not only that, but all four wheel bearings need replacement. The shocks are also going bad, and all four of them need to be replaced, along with four tie rod ends, two adjustor sleeves, an idler arm, and a CV joint boot (this feels like a mechanic’s “12 Days of Christmas”). If you know what half of the parts in that section are, congratulations: you know more about cars than I do. On top of that, there are mysterious noises coming from the rear parking brake and the A/C compressor clutch.
So, all told, it would cost more than $4,000 to fix my car. Fun, huh? Considering that it just went over 150,000 miles and it’s a 1999 Blazer, I think I’ll be talking to the dealership and getting a new car pretty soon, depending on what they want to give me for a trade-in.
Anyone want to buy a Blazer?
Monday, May 19, 2008
It seems that not everyone is getting their economic stimulus checks in the full $600 the government promised. While not surprised, I’m a little disappointed at this latest development. To tell someone they’re going to have that money, to have them plan around it, and then to give them less, well, that’s a pretty crappy thing to do. Don’t get me wrong, I think that the entire idea of a government that puts its economy down the toilet by overspendig giving each of its citizens $600 is a horrible idea; if that’s the plan, though, then you have to give people what they were promised. Even if you were going to save the money instead of doing something like spending it a brand new, shiny TV, getting half of that amount (or less) is like a swift kick in the shin. And honestly, swift kicks in the shin hurt.
Swift kicks in the shin aren’t the only thing that hurts; it seems like everywhere I look there are signs of economic downturn. A dollar doesn’t buy what it used to, and a trip to the gas station produces grimaces and fear. People I know aren’t going to restaurants as much, but that doesn’t even help as much as it should with food prices what they are. I myself am going to start bringing lunch materials to work to avoid going out to eat with my co-workers; it’s great and we have a good time, but I can’t spend $10-$15 per day on lunch if I’m going to be saving up for big purchases, especially if they’re small and shiny.
Where to put the blame of the current state of the economy? Is it the war? A quick google for “How much doe the war in Iraq cost?” brings you to this page, which claims that (at the time I wrote this) the war has cost America $520,826,443,126. Think about that number for a minute. Think about what would happen if the government spent that much on anything else—education, rehabilitating ghettoes nationwide, ending world hunger and (real) tyranny, etc. Or think about where the American economy would be if we weren’t spending that money at all. The last time I remember feeling good about the economy was when Clinton was President (who doesn’t miss Slick Willie?), and during his term Clinton recorded a $559 billion surplus. A surplus, for Christ’s sake. Bush II, on the other hand, has increased the national debt by $3.25 trillion since he came into office (both numbers grabbed from the presidents’ Wikipedia articles, but you get the idea).
So how is this going to end? Is America going to go the way of Rome, spiraling out of control? Is Barack Obama our savoir? I, for one, have a tough time seeing John McCain win the election—I beleive there’s going to be too much of an anti-Republican backlash from the Bush II administration—and Hillary Clinton is all but done. Obviously, the next president is going to have to do one of two things: raise taxes or cut spending. A tax hike would obviously be unpopular, but let’s look at some countries around the world and their average income tax rates:
Clearly, it wouldn’t be the end of the world if taxes were raised. Personally, I wouldn’t mind paying a bit more every two weeks if it meant that gas would drop below $4 per gallon again. Call me crazy, but I think a lot of Americans would be. Hopefully enough to get someone into office who knows what the hell they’re doing (or at least knows to hire an advisor that does.)
I’m done ranting. I’m obviously no economist, but I know enough to see the writing on the wall: America is sick and she needs help.