Saturday, January 5, 2013

Statistics, our money and reality

In my ongoing search of information regarding my quality of life, statistics are a necessary evil. Graphs, figures, seasonal, cultural, educational, gender, climate, predictive, potential, political, liberal and  conservative adjustments create havoc in such a way that reality appears only to be a matter of perspective. Driving down the highway I am inundated with a landscape cluttered with dozens, perhaps hundreds of huge, expensive, lighted and animated signs making sure I am informed about those less fortunate than I. "5 or 6 out of 10 kids go to sleep not knowing if they will be fed the next day." "Donate your car to help the needy" "Bring your clothes to the "blank" and help the poor." "Unemployment rates remain historically high" Things like that. Those ads are also found on the television, radio and Internet media. In my mind, being a business man for nearly a lifetime, knowing about return on a dollar when it comes to advertising, excuse me if I become just a bit cynical. Not being a man of unlimited funds I like to make sure what I give charitably actually gets to someone in need.. An historical fact sometimes lost in the past: During the second world war, Americans gave up eating butter. Not only for our soldiers but for the people of Russia who were unable to make their own butter. We ate oleo instead. The folks in Russia were in the habit of eating lard, not butter. So, they used the nasty butter to rub on their shoes and boots for waterproofing. We ate oleo. There is a lesson there I think.

Taking into consideration all the statistics available regarding the level of unemployment today. There is no doubt millions of people are unemployed. It is not a happy time for them. Did you know that in 1982 the unemployment was even higher? Yeah, it was. I was there. The lowest was back in 1953. I was there then too. Unemployment is figured and handled differently now. Interesting that unemployment figures are based on people aged 16 or older? Back before the early 40's it was 14 or older. I think we should know stuff like that. Kind of changes the doomsday approach we are fed daily. Over the past 60 years, unemployment has averaged 4.6%. Did you know that? I think today's unemployment figure is somewhere in the area of 7.6%. In the natural way of figuring wouldn't that mean that only 3% are unemployed more than usual? Not that those 3% aren't having difficulties but it's a heck of a lot easier to handle an "additional" 3% than it is to handle and "additional" 7.6%. That's what actual figures can mean instead of emotional gobbely gook.

Another fact about those figures we are bombarded with. Were you aware that the dollar amount we use to determine poverty has been altered considerably? Hundreds of thousands of people are still not aware that they are living in poverty and go on about their business without asking for or receiving any help from charity or government. According to graphs and collective figures, some parents can feed their families on far less than the national figures would suggest. Those surveys also show that people who use a government card don't always use it wisely. (who'd a thought) Did you know that those trucks that drive to houses delivering expensive steaks, seafood and other meats can accept bridge cards? Yeah, those folks living in abject poverty with lots of kids to feed can actually eat $18 a pound meat. I think those steaks last overnight so there is no reason those kids should go to bed not knowing if they'll eat the next morning. I don't have a government card, I eat cheap hamburg and buy any meat or seafood only if it is on sale. Oh yeah, did you know that a specialty, high priced, designer pizza shop, can accept bridge cards too? Yup, they sure can, as long as they don't cook it. I eat the freezer stuff from the supermarket, costs $2.47 for a whole pizza.

Every once in a while a special religious pastor comes along and starts some sort of a church. The pastor is so entertaining and charismatic that people flock to the services to hear what he or she has to say. It is every one's personal faith base that determines if this sort of thing is for them or not. I'm not the judge of that. Great churches have been built around the pastor by faithful. I'm just talking dollars and cents here. Most often, according the facts ands figures available to us all, Money eventually becomes the driving force of the originally well meaning pastors and they find new and inventive ways of spending the huge donations given to them by caring, kind considerate followers. According to the figures, money, huge amounts of free, donated money, corrupts. Something to bear in mind when putting that weekly offering in the envelope.

What I'm saying here is that today, every institution vying for my money is spewing out information in such inventive and imaginative ways that I have to educate my self independently in order to make a good decision. I happen to like butter, I don't mind giving it up from time to time if it's going to be appreciated and used in a way to actually benefit someone in true need. I say that if someone is used to eating lard, If lard is what they want, then let them eat lard. I once gave a car to a family with lots of kids and they didn't have a way to get to church on Sunday. I had been driving them to church each Sunday for almost two years. They were so happy. They never drove that car to church. Actually, until they ran the thing out of oil and the engine blew up after only 4 months of driving and neglect, they never went to church at all. When the engine blew up they called me and wondered if I could start driving them to church on Sundays again. What was my answer? What would your answer have been?

I think it's a good idea to do my research when someone asks me for free money that I worked my butt off for. Be it in church, at the store, on the phone or through my taxes.

Monday, December 31, 2012

32nd Silver Treasure Riddle

Well, the new year rings in on Tuesday so the 32nd Silver Treasure Riddle will begin on Wednesday January 2nd 2013. Matt Vande Bunte from the Grand Rapids Press will be doing a piece on And Greg said he'd be following it on his site as usual. Greg does a nice job but he is a busy person and it never hurts to double check spelling and punctuation. I'm just sayin'.  :<)

Rules will be posted but remain the same. Anyone can match wits with me and play the game from anywhere in the world by using a map of the greater Grand Rapids Michigan area. However, You must physically retrieve the metal medallion that is hidden and personally hand it to me in order to collect the valuable prize. There are participants from South Africa, Australia, Germany, Scotland and Osh Kosh Wisconsin.

The purpose of this decades old, fun and sometimes frustrating treasure hunt is to remind us all of the ever present danger of Carbon Monoxide poisoning. CO poisoning almost killed me and did result in amnesia for two years causing my family and I no end to difficulties. I ask that you remember that and take proper precautions like CO detectors. When I was poisoned detectors cost a hundred dollars or more and were far from perfect. Today they can be purchased for under $20 each for the average home protection and are incredibly accurate. We need only to read the news to find tales of death or illness resulting from Carbon Monoxide.

So, now lets us get back to the 32nd Silver Treasure Hunt and have us some fun OK?

More on January 2nd. See You Then!............Joe A.K.A. The Wyoming Riddler
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