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The FSA and Me

Vela Von - Oil patch hound

Vela Von – Oil patch hound

Note: This did not start out to be a how the cow eat the cabbage post but it certainly morphed into one in the few days it took to hatch.  Ah well, it is what it is.  /note

If you have gotten an email from me lately, you might notice the sig line says “A country deserves what it tolerates.”  which is attributed to Fred Reed.   The entire quote-byte is “A country deserves what it tolerates. And gets more of it.”

Apropos.

I think I mentioned a paycut/loss of benefits/revertment to 1099 status recently???  Some folks would say that don’t hardly seem fair but my way of thinking is “who said life was fair?”  But most folks don’t think that way these days.  It is all about the FSA** and the GOV taking care of you. BTW, the tag line on the FSA** Facechatting page is “Working is for chumps, we vote for a living.”  Alrighty then.  Color me disdainful.

Two things went through my brain this week that have stuck hard and been revisited often.  One was some communication with a long time friend who was lamenting the erosion of commerce here in the Oil Patch.   He calls it a tragedy and a rarity.  Not so – not even close.   If the cat has kittens in the oven,  you don’t call ’em biscuits.  The oil business is cyclic and always has been;  you approach it heads up and eyes wide open with expectations in check.  I sent this to him.

Oil is a boom/bust cycle. Always has been/always will be.  It is driven by greed and avarice much as the 1849 Gold Rush was.  People throw normal reason out the window. People see the opportunity to make some BIG bucks and normal and reasonable business practices are pushed aside de rigueur.  Investors flock to the oil patch and practically beg the players to take their money,  banks make loans willy nilly with diminished requirements.  Everybody wants a piece of the action and understandably so!  They are blinded by the money even though they KNOW they are running a high risk gamble.   It is unbridled greed and American entrepreneurship at its’ ugly best.

The afternoon walk in our neighborhood

The afternoon walk in our neighborhood

The rank and file contractors and roughnecks are not blameless either.   They know what goes up must come down, the newbs hear it from the Old Dogs that lived through the 80’s bust but there is always the denial.  Always the thought that the party will go on forever.   So instead of riding that fat hog and putting their financial house in order,  folks take on huge new debt loads and the banks are happy to oblige!  After all this cat applying for the loan  is making $1k a day!!!

I got 2 stories to relate…………

A 24yo supervisor for (redacted) was badly burned when we were onsite over by Catarina.  He broke ALL company rules and attempted to relight a flare pit (not a flare stack) that had been extinguished. I knew this kid pretty good and he was all the time showing me pics of his latest toys.  He made $160k/year.   He collected NOTHING from  (redacted) for the accident once the Work Comp ran out due to the fact he broke company policy and ignored direct instruction from a supervisor.  Even at that pay rate,  he was living paycheck to paycheck.  The $500k house in San Antone, the New F250 King Ranch, the new Lexus for the wife, the TWO new Harleys, 4 ATVS and new boat all went away.

An old dog I got to know ran a pipeline crew for (redacted).   He came in the gate last February and told me him and his entire 100% Hispanic crew were laid off the end of the week and I asked what now??  He smiled and said he paid for his house and two more rentals  in Laredo during the 80’s.  He bought a new pickup cash when the boom re-ignited in 2009 and was still driving it.  He also had a repo truck  – 1980’s vintage sitting ready to go in his garage that was a carryover from the last bust.  He told me the repo truck would see plenty o’ business in the next few years.  Said he had rode the oil wave to the MAX and welcomed a slowdown and a break.  I thought his Plan B was pretty shrewd.

So I guess what I am trying to say is I do not agree with your ongoing negative pity party AT ALL.   It is not the Hand of God reaching out to punish all of us nor the GOV walking on us with hobnail boots.  It is a product of greed and avarice meeting the cold reality of supply and demand – Big Business version.   This is NOT anything new or unique. Houston was a ghost town after the 80’s crash; they rolled up the sidewalks in the Permian and entire towns died in West Texas.  It has happened before, we are watching/living  it now and it will happen yet again.  This one has its’ own unique spin as they all do but the script is basically the same.  What will happen is demand will (again) eventually exceed supply and/or some of those bright boys in Houston will figure out a way for a shale well to be profitable @ $25 barrel all in. It is what Texas oilmen do and we are the best in the World at it.

I do not feel sorry for the hands that piled on the debt when the paychecks were fat.  They should have been RETIRING debt given such a windfall opportunity.   They are or were utter fools.  I do not feel sorry for the banks, investors and companies that lost their ass either. They knew the risks full well.  The biggest game of Russian Roulette in the world is the oil business.

I have not drawn inward and become secretive either, trying to shield what is left of my piece of the pie from would-be usurpers.  Any info I have is readily shared with anyone that asks.  I am ( I hope)  the same public person as I was when we were ALL riding the Express Train to Fat City a few years back.   It is a moral prerogative for me to share what I know and at least make an honest effort to help those who find themselves in a less fortunate place.  Obviously, YMMV.

I have been blunt with you and maybe my message is unwelcome.  One man’s opinion and take it FWIW.  I STRONGLY support your right to say whatever you want and I STILL count you in my very small circle of true friends.

The second thing that velcro’d itself to my brain pan was Ol’ Remus’  discourse on the Second Amendment. (excerpted)

The right to keep and bear arms isn’t reviewable by any authority or subject to any decision by any court. This decision (ED.note -referring to an earlier Maryland court decision), welcome as it appears to be, is merely part of a continuing transgression on that right. The right to be armed is not a legitimate concern of the judiciary, or the legislature or the executive. There are no valid arguments for or against it, it’s neither diminished by opposition nor improved by support. Like all natural rights, the right to be armed is free-standing, there’s no second party. Nor is it pendant to any other right or purpose. Natural rights are not subject to popular approval or exceptions or statistical analysis or notions of a greater good or veto or repeal, nor do they incur any unique obligations or consequences. A natural right just “is”.

The right to keep and bear arms is neither granted by nor guaranteed by the Constitution. The Second Amendment merely names and acknowledges the right and confirms government pledges not to infringe on that right. Just as we don’t gain the right to be armed by any document, nor do we keep it or lose it by any document, nor does any document confer validity or any other particular quality to it, nor can any document expand or reduce it. A document is an incidental artifact, it may be reinterpreted or altered or even withdrawn, but the right it attempts to describe remains.

Natural rights are not dispensed by men. One man can’t give another man permission to be armed, it’s not his to give. Permission schemes are worse than invalid, worse than fraud, worse than “pre-crime” star chambers, although they are all of these. Permission schemes are a denial of personhood itself. The right to be armed does not rest on its acceptability to others. No legislative or judicial body can claim authority to dispense the right to keep and bear arms and also claim legitimacy, and no person can apply for permission and see himself as, or be seen as, or be, a free man.

Illegitimacy has brought down governments all by itself, and where it hasn’t, it’s been the one indispensable ingredient in doing so. Suppressing the right to keep and bear arms demonstrates illegitimacy in a particularly stupid way, it “makes trouble where there wasn’t any.” It harasses and enrages the citizenry for no practical gain and leads them to conclude there is no purpose to it other than preparing the ground for further subjugation. Opposition commonly focuses on intent, presumed to be equally illegitimate, which ripples through society’s larger equations, reinforcing related fears and existing suspicion. Nations and empires have fallen in just this way.

The onlyest way I am dealing with things these days is pursuing with fervor those matters where I ascertain I can make a difference. My sphere of influence is pitiably minute but may prove important in the years to come for those few it affects directly.

Let me leave with a snippet of prose from Larken Rose  –   avowed anarchist and convicted felon courtesy of our IRS….. (excerpted)

Today’s injustices and oppressions are fashionable and popular, and those who resist them, you tell yourselves, are just malcontents and freaks, people whose rights don’t matter, people who deserve to be crushed under the boot of authority. Isn’t that right? You bunch of spineless, unthinking hypocrites. Look in the mirror, take a good look at what you imagine to be righteous and kind. You are the Devil’s plaything. The crowds of thousands wildly applauding the speeches of Adolf Hitler? That was you. The mob demanding that Jesus Christ be nailed to the cross? That was you. The white invaders who celebrated the wholesale slaughter of those godless redskins? That was you. The throngs filling the Colosseum, applauding as the Christians were fed to the lions? That was you. Throughout history, the perpetual suffering and injustice, occurring on an incomprehensible scale—it was all because of people just like you: the well-trained, thoroughly indoctrinated conformists, the people who do as they’re told, who proudly bow to their masters, who follow the crowd, believing what everyone else believes and thinking whatever authority tells them to think. That is you. (link to the complete speech)

Government-Lies-440x300

**FSA. (Free Shit Army)

(Ed note: Just so’s you know, I did not make this definition up.  Go here. )

The F.S.A. is used primarily to describe “the 47%” of US citizens who not only pay nothing in federal taxes, but actually believe that they are entitled to the fruits of the labors of others. It is also used to describe a large portion of the Democratic Party who rely on the government to provide food stamps, subsidized housing allotments (Section 8), and sign themselves up for every bit of free stuff possible .
You can often identify members of the F.S.A. (Free Shit Army) by their SNAP/Food Stamp cards, latest urban fashions, Section 8 Housing voucher-stubs, their $300. Nike tennis shoes, Apple Smartphones, and their 60″ Plasma televisions.

End Note:  My Hometown by Charlie Robison from the Life of the Party CD.  If you don’t like your youtubes raucous with a shot of Jack back, skip this ‘un.  As for me, this is Essence 0f Charlie; much more so than what I hear on a studio CD.   Mebbe it is a Texas thang?  Back in the day, I think me and BFF Cait saw Charlie live about more than anybody else.

 

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8 comments to The FSA and Me

  • Joel

    FYI, the “FSA” includes my 86 yo father with frototemporal lobe dementia who served in the USN and therefore gets VA benefits, and who paid taxes for over 40 years and therefore gets SS, Medicare and Medicaid benefits he earned from the sweat of his brow. No, he doesn’t pay federal income taxes anymore, which I guess makes him the target of rebuke and contempt from some. Me, I’m proud he’s my dad and happy he’s alive, safe and fed. YMMV.

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    • Andy

      With that reasoning, I will join the FSA in 2018 when I start drawing SS earned via payroll deductions that go back to 1970. 47 years of working and paying into SS is not the same as what is outlined in the definition of the FSA I quoted. Not for your Dad or for me or for you.

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      • Joel

        This is from your quote: “The F.S.A. is used primarily to describe “the 47%” of US citizens who not only pay nothing in federal taxes . . . ”

        Most of that “47%” of people not paying federal taxes are still paying FICA, sales taxes (which in many states take the place of state income taxes), property taxes (yes, you pay property taxes when you rent), etc. Most of the “47%” are actually the working poor, who simply don’t make enough money to owe taxes, retired veterans and the disabled.

        http://www.factcheck.org/2012/09/dependency-and-romneys-47-percenters/

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        • Andy

          Obama admits welfare encourages dependency

          “Of the more than 70 welfare programs in operation today, only one requires able-bodied recipients to work or look for work. The President’s suggestion that today “there are work obligations attached to welfare” is vastly out of touch with what is really taking place.”

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  • Pete

    I think to be a true FSA ranking member, you need to be drawing benefits from something you never paid in to (we have plenty of those out here in California). SSI and even Unemployment Insurance are supposed to be policies you contribute to and are supposed to be available when you need them. However, there are plenty of folks drawing SSI these days days that didn’t contribute much (or anything). Great posting Andy!

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    • Andy

      Thanks Pete.
      SSI is actually funded from the general tax fund – not the SS coffers. Let me give a perfect real life example of how it should work. My friend Fat Boy Scott who I have written about many times here got the cancer and died when he was in his 50’s. He was single at the time and had never been what one would consider wealthy. Plus he liked lusty busty bar maids, the turn of a card and the night life. Hell, he was single, no kids so what? He always worked regardless and got by.

      When he got sick, he couldn’t work anymore and most of his stuff on the monthly note got taken back. He had no money, mounting hospital bills and ended up living in his favorite Uncle’s hunting cabin. SSI and Medicaid made what few months of his life remained tolerable but certainly no frills. On one of his last trips to MD Anderson in Houston, he had to solicit help from his friends for motel and gas money. This, to me, is the system working as designed.

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  • Andy…you said “The right to keep and bear arms isn’t reviewable by any authority or subject to any decision by any court.” While I 100% agree with that premise…what is subject to identification by the court is what those words actually mean. They’ve already been interpreted to mean that owning a fully automatic weapon isn’t legal with all sorts of permits…and at least of the misguided decisions of some states are to be believed…even “scary looking guns” that are semi-automatic and would be otherwise legal except they have bipods or pistol grips or whatever other idiotic restrictions they’ve come up with…in any even these may be eventually ruled illegal by SCOTUS as well. Now that we’ll have another probably liberal justice…and if Clinton wins as I believe she will even though she’s a liar, probably a criminal, and not fit for the office (not that I’m voting for her) I think we’ll see another couple of liberal justices as the old liberals like Ginsberg will retire if she wins. While I agree that the Constitution must to some extent be considered a living document as things like email and guns with magazines weren’t thought of back when it was written…too many liberals believe that we should reinterpret it based on today’s views instead of what it actually says.

    The 2nd amendment can’t be overturned except by constitutional amendment…but it can be whittled away at which is the long term goal of progressives.

    I really believe that…assuming that the NRA and the anti-gun people would actually talk to each other in good faith, but that ain’t gonna happen anytime soon…that one could come up with some common sense things that might limit gun violence (although in truth it’s really the guy/gal with the gun and not the gun that’s the problem) and still not infringe on the 2nd amendment right.

    It’s a tough problem…the Constitution says one thing…but there is some validity to the liberal argument that the 2nd amendment talks about a militia…but I’m not really trying to get down in the weeds too much here…but then stopping mass shootings would also obviously be a good thing. Mental health improvements would help…but I fear that the real truth is that if you’re going to have a free country with rights then there’s a certain amount of crazy that you just have to accept because people are people and some of them are bad/nuts/evil/whatever.

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    • Andy

      Thoughtful Neil but I have begun to reject most if not all permissions, accreditations and checks associated with the basic rights granted me as a person. What kept all these crazy gun owners in check prior to the National Firearms Act of 1934?

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