Tales From Normal, Mn.--FICTION

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Tales from Normal, Mn. Headline News---FICTION

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Dateline Normal, Mn.: "There are NO jails in Normal, Mn."----FICTION

Well we are in the budget season. After a long Saturday of listening, listening, and listening to departments that were calmly planning on spending more money next year for projects designed to edify my lifestyle, I just needed a getaway----so after loading the video and audio, I headed the car up that long and lonely road to Normal, Mn., up Hwy 10 north of the Twin Cities, just south of Garrison to my favorite fishing spot.

After making sure that there was a room at the Spruce Goose Motel, the only motel in town with a 30 point buck on each wall, I headed over to the Hideaway Lounge---where they were having an "Over 35 male fisherman night" where all the drinks were half price, and the ladies had to pay full price. Every year there was just one night that men had the special price, and I got there for the occasion. It was special.

Anyway, I quickly found my old friend, Herman, the countryboy lawyer, and after ordering a double manhatten, with the special whiskey, I just blurted it out to Herman:

"Herman, how do deal with the budget up here in Normal, Mn. It seems like the cost of everything, food, utilities, gas, travel, etc is just skyrocketing. For cities, it seems that the costs of administration is high too, and the costs of municipal courts and police are rising too. How do you deal with it?"

Herman let out a huge belly laugh: "It's real simple, Wolfman( that's what he always called me.). It is all the inner secrets of the accounting categories. Up here we just use CONSOLIDATED ACCOUNTING."

"What do you mean,?" I asked.

"It's real simple, Wolfman" we merged the jail expense with the municipal court. That way, if a guy goes to jail, it comes out of the salary of the court staff. Shucks. We haven't had a person jailed in years. It just works wonders."

"Something about that does not sound right", I retorted. Isn't that conflict of interest?"

Herman replied, "Nope. It's just normal here."

Then Herman went on: " We also combined the police automotive expense with the salary expense ---there is just one CONSOLIDATED category. That way, the bigger the cars the police drive, the more it comes out of their salary---It has worked WONDERS. We used to have all SUV's here. Nowdays, our police chief rides a moped."

WoW. I never had heard about CONSOLIDATED accounting. Sounded pretty odd to me. Still. I could just see our police staff riding mopeds.

It sure is good to be back in good old Wisconsin. Where we have separate categories for stuff. Where folks occasionally do go to jail. And where mopeds might not work.

It sure is good to be back home.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Tales from Normal, Mn.: "Courage and Collegiality BOTH begin with "C".

Well. What a news day today!!! Outgoing Chancellor Wiley of the University of Wisconsin has written a blockbuster article on how "Wisconsin Has Lost It's Way"----and the article in NOT about the Packers. Imagine.

It seems that even though the Wisconsin Badgers have been selling tons of sweatshirts and other decal stuff for the royalty income that helps students---still actual teaching at the University has been dismal----and that has been the Legislators fault for not providing enough funds. Despite the heroic drinking efforts of Wisconsin students to help local business in the tavern industry, it appears that local crime has been about three times the rate of our neighbor Minnesota. If those backward legislators had just provided the funds needed for more research, and buildings, it might all have been different. And the WMC, the Wisconsin Manufacturing Council, has been the culprit because it is them that has made rural legislators, and Republican legislators at that, concentrated on petty, partisan concerns.

It was just a blockbuster tirade. And it seems to have been building over the past seven years of his leadership. I took the time to drive down Regent Street today, wistfully picturing in my mind what game day has become. The development has been pretty breathtaking. Years ago, back in 1969, all the students had to cramp into the Copper Grid and the few other establishments in town, and it was virtually impossible to even order a beer....much less get to a rest room.

As I gazed down Regent Street, I understood in a flash why all the dispair. There really was not any extra space where more party areas for designated beer drinking could be franchised. The University has done such a heroic job covering every block with porta potties and beverage areas, that only the Arboreteum was left for expansion. And that area was certainly open for development.

I just wondered. And when I wonder, I tend to just pick up the phone and call my old friend from Normal, Mn., Herman, the countryboylawyer and see what he thinks: It was clear and hot weather. The call went right through.

"What do you make of the Retirement Rant of Chancellor Wiley, Herman?"

"It's all real simple, Wolfman.(That's what he always called me) The big picture to remember, Wolfman, is that COURAGE and COLLEGIALITY both begin with "C".

"What do you mean?" I asked.

"Everybody has CHEAP COURAGE, or the courage to rant after the pension has been vested, the money put in the bank, and no risk at hand. Everyone can raise a hand and rant at that time. It however, takes COURAGE for a leader to SPEAK UP in the middle of a career on the issues that make a difference----and ALL of the issues that Chancellow Wiley spoke of were KEY issues that confront the University of Wisconsin. Imagine what would have happened if he had just told parents "Do Not send your child here for undergraduate education---we cannot afford to do it right---It is not our focus as a research university.....and it is not the prudent thing to do." WOW. That would have caused some action. The same speech after the retirement check has been cut...results in nothing. "

I was totally shocked. Herman must not appreciate a good rant as much as I do. Still. I could see his point.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

"No" means "NO" in Normal, Mn.----FICTION

Well. It has been just a hubub of political activity locally. With all the budget talks. One of the things that just picqued my interest was the series of video where the discussion was about what would happen if a certain referendum would go down to defeat in November. What would happen if the public said "NO."

The answer was that the politicians would still "work it" and bring it back to the voters in a year. Maybe they would change their mind. Maybe if they were asked more nicely, maybe with a "pretty please" they would agree.

Just that morning I had been reviewing the early elementary school anti bullying campaign curriculum, and something struck me as unusual. The same kind of behavior that schools on a daily basis are teaching our kids to avoid, is the exact type of behavior that our government celebrates.

Whenever I wonder about things, I just pick up a cellphone and give my friend Herman, the countryboy lawyers from Normal, Mn. a call. He knows the law. He should know.

"Herman, how does it work up in Normal, Mn? Does "NO" mean "NO" in Normal?

Herman just laughed. "Wolfman,"(that's what he always called me), "NO" always means "Maybe" in politics. That is because there is no morals in politics, just opportunism. Hence, "NO" is just a relative term for a point in time.

Then Herman went on: "In love and war, however, "NO" might mean different things. The President might say "NO" to Russia invading Georgia---and then keep saying "NO" hoping that it would be believed. Still. Ya have to have some force to back it up. So also in love. The girl can say "NO" but always keep her hand on the phone to call 911 to make sure. It is just "trust but verify," in love and war.


"What about a Lake referendum?" I asked.


Herman laughed.

"That's real easy, Wolfman. NO means NO. A No would mean its settled. "

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Dateline Normal, Mn.: Sales of Apparel, Misc. Skyrocket; Taxes Plunge

(Ed.note; Click on the post for the recent article regarding the Wisconsin Badgers apparel sales.)

Today was a special day in news----the news broke that the Wisconsin Badgers have such an increase in apparel sales of its liscensed apparel that it has been able to increase the number of scholarships for needy students. I was impressed. So impressed that I called my old friend in Normal, Mn, Herman to share the news.

Right in the middle of my news, Herman cut me off:

"Been there and done that, Wolfman." (That's what he always called me.) Up here in Normal, Mn., we not only liscense sweatshirts, we cover everything, including bait, fishing poles, ammo, as well as all alcohol beverages, on sale and off sale. The revenue cut for the schools has led the nation. Up here we have the real "Dare" program---we dare people to drink an unapproved beverage. That new attitude has worked wondors. We have completely eliminated student hardship. "

"But Herman," I objected, "that was not the idea of the "Dare Program"---the Dare program was to eliminate drugs and alcohol."

Herman interjected: "Wolfman, the Dare program was a joke. It was a program to put nice signs over the entrance at grade schools and early childhood centers, and then ignore the whole problem in middle school and high school. The Dare program and the co-curricular code are a joke generally----Up here in Normal, Mn., our citizens really enforce the "Dare program for approved apparel cause it means lower tuition and fees for all students.

Yup. It kinda makes one wonder what else one could liscense.

Dateline Normal, Mn.: "FEMA Track and Field"------FICTION

Well. It's been a stressful weekend. With the launching of our youngest to college. I thought it best right after dropping her off at Spat Camp, or Marching Band Training Camp, to just head on up Hwy 10 to Normal, Mn. I never was too lucky with the bass during August as I recall, but I thought I would try anyway.

As I was driving into Normal, Mn., I noticed the large banner----Red Background with roman bold lettering-----FEMA Track and Field Days----Welcome Marching Bands"--- That made me wonder. After stopping at Betty Lou's Coffee Shop, the one named after the old "Betty Lou's got a new Pair of Shoes" and the one where they never really made a mocha or expresso, but made everything real strong, I cornered Herman and asked him:

"What the heck is going on up here? What is with the FEMA Track and Field Days?

Herman let out a huge chuckle. "Wolfman (that's what he always called me) that is real simple. Last year, we had a huge residential subdivision flood out with torrential rains. At the same time, the local school district in Normal, Mn. was running out of space, and needed more land because they were crowded. One of the FEMA inspectors came upon a brainstorm----Why not convert the whole residential subdivision of lots into into a giant sports complex and have FEMA pay for it because they erred in mapping the flood plain, and at the same time, move the sports fields from the overcrowded school campus to make room for additional construction. Then they simply had electric trollies take the kids from the main campus to the sports fields after class each day. It cost the taxpayer absolutely nothing for the land. "

"That really is a brainstorm," I said. But how come you called it "FEMA field" and not after some local athletic celebrity.

"Funny you should ask that," Herman chuckled. At first we were going to name these beautiful fields after FOUR prominent athletic achievers---and WOW was there stiff competition for the naming---Imagine your name in lights, Wolfman. "XXXXXXX-----XXXXXX------" There was a frenzy of competition. There were even some heated arguments at local watering holes over whose name was going to be on the fields."

"Well what happened?" I asked.

Herman went on: " Well every thing was going smoothly with the excitment building, when all of those athletic gurus were named in a Federal Lawsuit---and after all the publicity and all, and what is even worse, with all the legal bills for those high priced armani suited lawyers of the Federal Courts,,,,the guys just lost their appetite for fame. In the end, they just named it after FEMA."

WOW. I was pretty stunned.

Still. I think our locals could think of four individuals to name the Field and Stadium after. There might be some argument. I think that.....YOUR NAME....would fit on the stadium real nice.

Still. I do wonder. A federal lawsuit might still put a wrench in the works.

Darn.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Dateline Normal, Mn: "Financial Feelings---the Sacred Trust of Normal"------FICTION

Recently I have been going to meetings where the detailed financial transations of our fair City have been aired----and have been listening a lot. Well...Yes. I did ask a question or two, but usually have gotten the "That's just the natural way. That's just the way it is....or the normal, "We are not staffed for that."

These responses have been pretty amazing since we have had two profound studies done by consultants in the past year that have totalled over $50,000 that have resulted in nothing but blue sky. Don't get me wrong. I love blue sky. But a little reality is good too. And accounting is part of that reality. Our auditors had said that a policy and procedure manual that covered the following items was necessary:

Purchasing procedures
Treasury functions including an investment policy
Fund accounting
Utility billing procedures
Cash receipts procedures
Journal entry approval
Fraud risk management
Disaster recovery plan
Chart of accounts manual
Work order processing
Utility collection and write-off procedures
Interest and reconciliation of customer deposits."

After the auditor had prounced this, the governmental gurus were silent. After all, they had ignored this advice in the past and had paid the accounting audit fee, and well...thank you for the advice.

So---I just wondered. And as I often do, I picked up the cell phone and called my old friend Herman from Normal, Mn., a resort fishing town just South of Garrison. Whenever I had questions, a quick telephone call or a down home fishing session with the guys put the whole matter in perspective. So...I just blurted out:

"Herman, how do you handle financial policies and procedures up there in Normal, Mn.?

Herman let out a huge bellylaugh:

"Shucks, Wolfman,(that's what he always called me) up here in Normal, we do not allow any policy and procedures manual for ...well...anything. We try to just go with our FEELINGS,,,,and live in a natural state. "

"But Herman," I replied, "a regular method of accounting is really just a matter of what we call "professional conduct" and it is really commonplace in banks and insurance companies and well...even some businesses all across the country nowdays."

"Up here we just do it our way," Herman replied. We read Darwin; We read Einstein; We learned how to add and subtract. What could be more than that? The first of our principles is that everything is "relative" and clearly if the expense follows in the family line, it is approved. It's just that simple. And if it is not clear what is to be done, we just put the expense out to the "black hole"----

"Whatever is the "black hole" account?, I asked.

"Well" Herman went on, " whenever there is an expense that is kinda uncomfortable, we just make it a payable with a really long payoff period and for only maybe 1% interest rate. That makes sure that everybody currently living will be dead by the time the issue comes up again. It works wonders."

Well Thank goodness I am back in good old Wisconsin!! Where most cities actually have charts of accounts. And where expenses are paid not just to relatives, but to actual vendors. And where we do not delay payment from preferred folks till everybody is dead.

It sure is good to be back home.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Tales from Normal: "Legend of the Sit Pipe"--Fiction

It is not a "Stand Pipe" but rather a "Sit Pipe' and it is, or might be a matter of historical registry--in a land of fiction.

Dateline Normal: "Schools eliminate reading..and math too"--

Normal Mn: Schools eliminate math as well as reading to save money----

Daleline Normal;" Police and School District Merge"--FICTION

Tales From Normal: To be Green, The Normal Police and the Normal School District Merge:

Tales from Normal: On Arbor Day; On Cutting trees---FICTION

Arbor Day with a new twist---a green twist and one with energy saving--

Dateline Normal: "Perfect Attendance"--FICTION

How every school child in Normal, Mn. has perfect attendence; On civic pride; On win-win and much more.

Dateline Normal: "Sheriff Shocks Normal-FICTION

Dateline Normal: How Herman rescues residents of Normal when half the town is arrested for drunken driving. On how it would have been nice to get a little notice that the law was goin to be enforced.

Dateline Normal: "Public-Private Partnership"--Fiction

Tales From Normal: On the Public Private Partenership or PPP---and how Regular Folks and the PPP differ. How to determine which you are.

Dateline Normal: "The First Hour is Free"---FICTION

A little tale of why the first hour of legal consulatation is FREE in Normal, Mn.; On FEAR; On GREED; On Legal Process;

Dateline Normal: 'Walleye Days"---FICTION

"Walleye Days Come to Normal, Mn.---FICTION: A little reflection on the BIG fish; On the theory of the leisure class. On how it does or does not add up. Or should it?

Tales From Normal: "Good Help is Hard to Find"--FICTION

A Tale from Normal, Mn. about where all the "good help " went. And a theory on how to regain it.

Dateline Normal, Mn.: "Me Love You Long Time"--FICTION

A short tale of the theory of oriental love; The lost Newton law of reverse distance.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Dateline Normal, Mn.: " Capital costs allocated in relation to the allocation of debt proceeds. "----FICTION

Well it has been a long week. Friday night when I got home, my beloved spouse informed me that I needed to review our checking account because it appeared that "capital costs allocated in relation to the allocation of debt proceeds, " needed reassessment. I was totally confused. I always get that way when she talks that way, and goes into her accounting lingo. So, I just do what I always do when I wonder, I gave my friend Herman, the countryboylawyer from Normal, Mn., a call on my trusty cellphone and asked him: "Herman, what does this lingo mean?"

Herman just let out a large bellylaugh: "Wolfman, you need to come up to speed on all the recent technobabble----that just means that your borrowing did not match your spending---and there is a "GAP"----the elongated phrasing of them accounting folks just makes it seem a lot more palatable. The bottom line, Wolfman, is that you should check your checking account---I would guess that you are short."

"Thanks, Herman"-----

Monday, August 4, 2008

Dateline Normal: "Me Love you Long Time"-----FICTION

A simple story of why people who love people are always at least 4000 miles away from one's residence, and usually one never gets to meet them.

Well the excitement of the Beijing Olympics has been building for months---and the opening ceremony is only days away. The Olympics might just put China on the map in many ways....if the smog clears so we can even see the map that is. And if the Chinese can clean up their human rights abuses in time....it seems that they have been watching us in our conduct of the Guantanomo prisons and the Abu Ghirab affair, and they have used us as a role model and it is hard to get out of their mind. They need to learn that we never do what we say and to follow what we say till we tell them otherwise. Everybody knows that.

One myth is that the fascination with China is something new---not really so in our home. The oriental thing. The interest in the mystery....the religion...the customs and yes costumes has been long standing. One daughter has studied Japanese, and the manga movies outnumber the heavy dose of violent action movies that once had graced our libraries. Now romantic manga movies are the story of the day. I cannot understand Japanese or Chinese so I do not understand what the girls are giggling about in these movies. There is just not enough action for me.

What has it come to. Where is the young Jesse the body Ventura or Schwartzeneger when we need them? I just wondered. And as I always do, I picked up the cell phone and called my old friend Herman from Normal, Mn..

I wasted no time in with pleasantries.

"Herman, what is the deal with all this oriental obsession----the anime on the girls side, and yes the myth of oriental love on the guy side. How does this all add up?

Herman just laughed.

It is pretty simple, Wolfman( that's what he always called me.) This thing has been going on for eternity. It is called now the "Me Love You Long Time Myth" or the "Distance Love Equation" in Algebra.

"I never learned that equation, Herman. It must have been in the appendix."

Then Herman went on: "The Distance Love equation states that the object of love has an intensity of love that is directly proportional to the distance from the beholder." This was one of Newton's laws that was lost in translation."

"What this means is that one always, as a matter of human nature, yearns most for "love" that is farthest from one, usually at least 3000 miles away, and usually which will never be found because of the extensive travel expenses. The secondary rule is that it is usually required that the person not speak your same language. That is the key for making the love intense.

"The bottom line, Wolfman, is that we never value love that is close. It is too easy and too difficult at the same time. We need it far off and unattractive and unintelligble to be really desirable."

"Does this rule even apply in Wisconsin?", I asked.

"Well I think so," Herman replied. "Still, the cheese could interfere with the rule maybe."

So there it is. The "Me Love You Long Time Rule," one of the lost Newton Laws. Even in Wisconsin. Now it all makes sense.

"Dateline Normal,Mn.: "Good Help is Hard to Find"----FICTION

Recently in the newspaper, and yes even locally, I have heard that there is an intense crisis of employment----and that "Good Help is Hard to Find." I have heard this described as a need for more "Workforce development." I have also heard from some folks of the conservative persuasion that describe an intense need for free borders so that their domestic needs can be met by folks that are priced...well...at precisely where all good help is priced it seems....very low....and the lower the better....and of course always cash...no checks and receipts please.

I have in summary been just a litle bewildered by all the discussion---is there really a shortage of character in our workforce, a shortage that might necessitate more extensive curriculum development in "character education" that would follow a complicated curriculum course....of course only after we could all agree on what "character" consisted of?

Whenever I get a little bewildered....and I have been bewildered a lot lately, I just give my old friend Herman, the countryboylawyer a call in Normal, Mn. . Herman is a real estate attorney who also serves on the Normal Minnesota School Board. I just wondered what he thought of this difficult problem that we were having.

"Herman what do you do about the crisis of "Good help?"

Herman let out a huge bellylaugh. 'Shucks, Wolfman (that's what he always called me) up here in Normal, Mn., we live the natural life. All employment is good, and both employees and employer understand what is required. It is just a lot simpler here. There is just fishing, and cutting bait. Usually, you fish and then eat the fish fresh, which is best, and then in the natural process of things, if ya want to eat, ya have to clean the fish. That's just the way it is. And there is a real dignity in controlling all the elements of production from catch to eating.

Herman went on: "The problem that I see in the big city situation is that over the years we have been cut off from all that is a whole, all that is a unified circle of production and consumption---and whenever that happens, people feel unhappy---vaguely unsatisfied. That is what I call the "Widget Problem." They feel out of sorts when they are just in a little part of the widget production. Oh yes. You can sugarcoat it and pump em up and tell them they are part of a team....rah....rah...rah,, but in the end, they know. "

Then Herman laughed. "It's kinda like just breathing, Wolfman. Ya breathe in and then ya breathe out. Ya don't delegate the exhale. The contractor might screw up the project and you would die. That is why the Lord put you in charge of both the inhale and exhale. "

In short, Wolfman, "Good help" is what people call help that is cheap. Really....good help is like good employers, it respects the total cycle of production and gives to dignity to all. And---it is pretty rare. I guess that is why I love fishing. "

Well. That was not the answer that I was hoping for. And it was most distressing that I did not have a boat and motor other than the rentals, but ....I guess it did describe why I always needed the getaway to Normal, Mn. I had thought it was the Hideaway Lounge....and the great coffee at Betty Lou's...but I guess it was all the "good help" that I fished with that was special.

Dateline Normal, Mn.: "Seniors Swamp College Job Fair"----FICTION

Well it's been a pretty bleak news environment lately---with the massive layoffs at auto manufacturing plants and all the other related firms that supply them. Add to that the steep decline in retail sales and the closing of hundreds if not thousands of retail stores all across America---still midst all the gloom is the announcement that college recruiters were still expecting to recruit new college grads---and even HIRE some in the Wall Street firms----something about that story just did not add up. How could thousands of investment professionals be summarily fired and yet at the same time entry level college grads hired---who for all practical purposes had no street smarts at all. How did this all add up.

When I wonder about these things, and I have been wondering a lot lately, I just pick up the cell phone and give my old friend Herman, the countryboylawyer from Normal, Mn. a call. Herman is a prominent lawyer....well he is the only lawyer...in Normal, Mn., a small fishing resort town just south of Garrison, Mn.---and he is also a member of the Normal School Board. I just wondered what he knew about employment law.

I just blurted it out:

"Herman, this all just does not make sense to me. How can there be college recruiting when all the rest of America is being laid off?'

Herman just let out a huge bellylaugh:

"Shucks, Wolfman( that's what he always called me), that is easy to explain. Dumb youthful beauty has always trumped old, wise, experience. ...with ONE exception."

"What do you mean ONE exception, Herman. There seems to be NO exception to me.?"

Herman went on: "Years ago we faced this same problem in Normal, Mn. The Seniors, or what we call a senior in America---an employee older than 28 years old....just got sick and tired of being discriminated against in employment and they went about it in two unique ways. First, they picketed all the retail stores in neighboring towns that did not have a fair share of seniors working for them. And secondly, they began bussing to college job fairs and swamping the application pools. The hip metro employeers made the mistake of hiring the hip, young, and dumb applicants, the seniors sued and won a mutimillion dollar settlement. They are on easy street now. What a wonderful revenue stream. Why even today, the busses leave every Monday morning from the center of town to the local colleges that are having the job fairs.

Wow. What a solution. I was pretty stunned.

Thank goodness I am back in good old Wisconsin. Where we do not have problems like this. Where students just leave the state to go elsewhere to be hired anyway. Where even seniors head out for better climates where their pension funds are not stolen from them by high taxation. We have our own ways in Wisconsin.

"Does Underwear Stink in Normal, Mn."----FICTION

Recently I have been examining my wardrobe, and planning purchases for the usual needed areas----work pants, underwear, socks, etc. I was honored to get on the mailing list of several national catalogs lately, and have been browsing----and hardly believing my eyes. It seems that there is "new" underwear that costs almost $20 each that simply does not "stink"---yes. That is what the sales lingo promises. Some new fangled microbial formula, sealed in a mayonaisse jar that was overlooked for centuries and now discovered. Seemed to me that this was quite a move up from the old prices...so I thought I should call my old friend, Herman, the countryboy lawyer from Normal, Mn.----after all. He was a lawyer, and also served on the Normal, Mn. school board. He should know all about stink and such.

The weather was rainy but thank goodness the call went through.

"Herman, What is with the new underwear that is in all them catalogs and selling for about $20 a pair that promises "NO STINK"---Guaranteed.?"

Herman let out a huge belly laugh.

"Shucks, Wolfman (that's what he always called me), that marketing machine has reached new heights---folks are always lookin to reach the promised land where we can be odor free---and believe me they will pay anything to think their poop does not stink---and the next best thing is if their underwear does not stink!!!!!!

Then Herman went on:

"Up here in Normal, Mn, we are too moxie for all that. We just buy the simple cotton briefs like we always have, and wash frequently. Nothing beats washing ones clothes to avoid the stink. "

Well. What a setback. Just when I thought there might be the chance to eliminate stink forever.

"Thanks Herman."

"Walleye Days Come to Normal, Mn."----FICTION

Time to focus on the big fish

I wondered aloud when I met Herman about why there was a "Walleye Days"---whenever I had gone fishing for walleyes, it was always a rented pontoon, a guide, etc....in short a very expensive outing that resulted in very few walleyes indeed. The way I calculated it, the cost per pound was about $300 per pound. How did this make any sense at all? I much rather just fish for sunnies and be done with it.

Herman however roundly objected to my analysis: He said: "Wolfman---you have missed the whole idea of wealth itself. The theory was proposed by Thornstein Veblen, who even taught at Carlton College in Northfield, Mn.,...until he had an affair with the President's daughter. Here is what Thornstein taught about wealth:

The ultimate of status is spending large amounts of cash investing in things that make no economic sense. Do not do the math. Of course it does not come out. It never was supposed to.

One of the key ideas of the Theory of the "Theory of the Leisure Class" by Thornstein Veblen, was that when one is of the super rich, the idea is to show off that wealth in a consistent manner and yes...in an outrageous manner....so that people get the idea that you have so much wealth that it bothers you not a wit if you waste a little of it....or a lot of it. The wasting of wealth then is a badge of honor. The more wasting....the more honor and status. Waste Away.

Drinking to excess, spending to excess, travelling to excess etc were all part of the game to make one stand out-----yes this was kind of a pre-Paris Hilton thing. In the matter of drinking, the drinking to excess was intended to show that since one had so many excess brain cells, that the destruction of tons of cells through alcoholism was really no problem for the super talented. yo. In some parts of the United States, we still have the tradition of drinking to excess, and yes...even cheap beer...but the theory of why this is done has been long lost....it is just a drunken tradition.

One of the corollary ideas that was all of a rage and fashion for government---it was the notion that governments or municipalities got high status by wasting money on restorations, and other items of infrastructure that were really just wasteful---and they were proud of it. After all. It was their heritage. It was for the grandkids. It was a badge of honor. Gradually, over the years, these large infrastructure projects became more important than citizens or governance itself. Accounting? heavens no....too boring. No need for policies and proceeures...boring...no need for oversight....just go with the flow....That is exciting. ---"

Do not worry. I spoke right out in defense of good old Wisconsin. I told Herman in no uncertain terms that we in Wisconsin did not have any high and fancy theories why we drank or spent to excess .....it was just our natural way and we never did read the " Theory of the Leisure Class."

Now to relax wih a good Bud Light. Heaven. It sure is good to be back home.

"Debt Lust"-----FICTION

Recently there has been a spate of stories from the markets describing how soon, or how long it is going to take before all the excess homes for sale in America can be sold ---one pundit has said that it would be either a flat market remaining steady for 10 years or else a plunge of 25% in pricing in order to kick start the real estate market.

That would be some kick start. It seems to me that a plunge of that sort would put 75% of all homeowners in America in foreclosure, and the Federal Reserve to boot. Ten years of flat prices seems more attractive. Not too attractive for building contractors however.

Last night on a tv program there was an author who has written a
book on "Debt" and I think the title may be "Debt Lust"-----I wondered about the term. I never knew that debt and lust were related. Yet....we certainly are surrounded by folks that are suggesting all sorts of civic improvements that need to be financed on the public trough in order to "enrich the grandkids". How could that be bad when we would be helping the unborn and such, and even if the unborn might never be born because of so much debt discouraging couples from getting married. Everybody might just decide to remain single and adopt....just like the movie stars, and to be economical. Those extra spouses can be expensive. We all know that.

I just picked up the cellphone and gave my old friend Herman, the countryboylawyer from Normal, Mn. a call. He should know. I know he knows about debt. I wonder if he has heard the term "debtlust".

I just blurted it right out: "Herman have you ever heard of "debtlust"?

Herman let out a huge bellylaugh. "Shucks Wolfman, there never was any lust or even love associated with debt. Only death and depression. Trust me. Up here in Normal, Mn. we just pay cash for everything. That way, we have some money left over to be creative. With tons of debt. Nobody gets married. Nobody has kids. And shucks, Wolfman, I think there ain't much love with debt at all. All the companies up here are on a cash accounting basis. Accrual is just too complicated--and besides ya have to hire an accountant. This way, the guys can just use the box method. We keep it real simple up here."

It sure is good to be back home. Where we can have long discussions about debt....and accrual classifications...and accounting audits...and where even if debt destroys....it sure is kinda complicated and ...well...worldly.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Dateline Normal, Mn.: "The First Hour of Consultation is FREE"-----FICTION

Well it has been a long week of extensive public meetings about conditional use permits of local businesses---where because of the long standing countryboy tradition of not having any written policies about anything, irregularities develop that one could drive a semi through, and indeed, the red blooded true born independent harley riding residents of these here parts obligingly drive a semi through them to the dismay of the regular folk.

Having heard some vague rumblings about how extensive the legal bills might be regarding these matters, I did what I always do when I wonder...and I have been wondering a lot lately.....I headed up that long and winding road to Normal, Mn., up 94 to the Twin Cities and then up Hwy 10 to just south of Garrison, Mn..

My car's air conditioner was on the fritz, and it was a long and hot drive indeed. By the time I got into town, I was ready for a cold, iced coffee at Betty Lou's and I called Herman to meet me there. Pronto.

Just as soon as Herman slipped into the traditonal booth, the ones with the red cracked vinyl covering, with the little record box on the wall with all the favorites of the 50's and the 60's still in it---the distributor had long ago gone out of business so it was real profitable now that the restaurant could keep all of the money.

I just blurted it out:

"Herman, how can it be that defiant, deviant, business owners that are flaunting the terms and conditions of a conditional use permit, can plead in the midst of their defiance, and in the alternative, for "equitable defences" and like a little dog on the ground with its paws waving in the air, plead for mercy from the benevolent court. It just makes no sense to me."

Herman let out a loud bellylaugh.

"I think I can help in this matter, Wolfman.(That's what he always called me.) Do you know why the first hour of consultation is FREE for lawyers?"

"NO," I replied. "What has that got to do with it?"

"It's real simple," Herman explained. "Up here in Normal, Mn., we have fishing and the natural life, and then on the other hand, we have the life of the "law". The law is where I make my money. You need to understand how these two worlds differ in order to be ready..... and prepared ....for the real world."

"Explain" I said.

"These two worlds, the natural world of fishing and the codified world of the law, are very different. From the instant of birth, we have a natural desire for the sound of the birds, the call of the loons, and the love of the peace of the lake. Add the peace of fishing for some. For others it is the love of sailing. You get my drift-----"

"The LAW however is different. There is no natural market. There is no natural thirst to pay the large fees for services like this. SO......the FIRST HOUR of VISITATION with a prospective client is always FREE----because that is precisely the hour that the counsel fills the client with FEAR or GREED or any of several other emotions that might nurture a fire of emotions so strong that a little thing like large fees are a small matter, expecial considering that they might be spread over the tax base for payment by the taxpayers, or even the grandchildren of the taxpayers. The reason that this hour is free is that the least the counsel could do when inflicting FEAR is not to charge the victim for it!!!! DITTO for Greed. "

After reflecting on his thoughts over the weekend, and after fishing for bass and catching quite a few, I gradually relaxed----and yes even got the air conditioner fixed on the car---it just had a leaky hose connection.

Thank goodness I am back in good old Wisconsin. Where the first hour of consultation, or the hour of FEAR may or may not be FREE, depending. I guess I now understand.