No Bananas in Scranton, PA

By: T F Stern
T F Stern’s Rantings

Years ago Harry Chapin came out with a cult classic, 30,000 lbs of Bananas, about a young truck driver on his way down the hill that leads into Scranton, Pennsylvania. “He missed a sign that he should have seen saying switch to low gear; a fifty dollar fine my friend…” In the end the driver had a very nasty accident leaving the town of Scranton, Pennsylvania without any bananas.

Harry, rest in peace, would have fun with live audiences as he offered for their approval alternative endings to, 30,000 lbs. of Bananas. One possible ending was “borrowed” from another familiar tune.

“Yes, we have no bananas,
We have no bananas today…
Yes, we have no bananas…
Bananas in Scranton, P.A…”

Eventually Harry got around to explaining, “You know the man who told me about it on the bus said it went off the hill out of Scranton, Pennsylvania…” Harry had a way with creating tunes from stories which actually happened, a gift of gab in musical form; but that’s not what I’m driving at today.

According to a Fox News story by Perry Chiaramonte, it would seem Scranton, Pennsylvania doesn’t have enough money to pay its bills either; never mind that pasty fruit folks like to slice up and add to breakfast cereal.

“Employees of a Pennsylvania city, who have all seen their salaries cut to minimum wage as the mayor grapples with budget problems, are hoping a judge restores their paychecks in full.”

“Scranton Mayor Chris Doherty cut everyone’s pay — including his own — on Friday, saying the state’s sixth-largest city is broke because the City Council blocked his proposed tax increase.”

You have to admire such a gutsy move, not necessarily the smartest move as he’s not only ignored a judges ruling; but he’s angered a bunch of civil servants who’ve become used to feeding off the public teat. These folks have a binding contract with the City of Scranton which pretty much makes it impossible to cut their salaries. Short of declaring bankruptcy, it would appear there is nothing to do except pay them.

That said, shouldn’t these civil servants have offered to ease their demands during hard economic times? Many of their neighbors are either under employed or out of work; after all, Scranton is a coal dependent city and one of the primary targets of the Obama administration’s efforts to kill off that industry. It would be better for these civil servants to take a modest cut in pay, only temporarily, until the economy rights itself; say twenty percent off the top?

Would a voluntary across the board cut in pay help balance the budget? Not having had a look at the books; you could bet the mortgage on it. In fact most of America is waiting with baited breath on such a turn around.

If pubic servants would step back from their positions of guaranteed superior wages and recognize that the current economy will not support contracts which were entered into under a prosperous economy, toss in a bit of reason and flexibility just for fun; budgetary short falls could be avoided in many cases. It beats the prospect of laying off workers with the least amount of seniority which only adds to the unemployment line.

Did I fall asleep dreaming? Perhaps I was off in Fantasy Land waiting for gum drops to fall from the Gum Drop Tree. I can see little cartoon outline figures doubled over in laughter at my suggestion; public employees taking a voluntary pay cut, “Whooo hooo hooo, Haaahaaahaaaa!”

I should probably hire somebody to start my car from now on; some union folks have ties to organized crime and can make folks disappear if you get my meaning. These goons won’t take kindly to my suggestion since they’d have fewer dollars to skim off the top from members.

If Harry were around today, how would he include Scranton’s budgetary woes in his tune? He might point out an unsustainable payroll or perhaps union contracts which are legally binding; but any way you slice that banana the ending could be summed up to fit the previously mentioned quip.

“Yes, we have no more money…
No money in Scranton P.A…”

This article has been cross-posted to The Moral Liberal, a publication whose banner reads, “Defending The Judeo-Christian Ethic, Limited Government & The American Constitution.”


Oil, Gold, Asia & the Best Investment in the World Right Now – An Interview with Jim Rogers

Interview by James Stafford of Oilprice.com

World markets appear to be hovering over a precipice as Europe’s sovereign debt crisis, slowdowns in India and China and further bank downgrades threaten to send stocks and commodities down even further. Falling oil and gas prices may offer some respite to consumers but are they enough to help the economy or are they a symptom of deeper problems?

To help Oilprice.com look at these issues and more we are joined by the well known investor, adventurer and author Jim Rogers. Jim is the creator of the Rogers International Commodity Index, he also recently completed a book called: A Gift to my Children – which helps people learn from their triumphs and mistakes in order to achieve a prosperous, well-lived life. Please click on the following link to find out more information on A Gift to my Children.

In the interview Jim talks about the following:

  • Why recent oil price falls are a good buying opportunity
  • Why oil prices could fall to $40 a barrel
  • Investment opportunities with the renewable energy sector
  • Why he is optimistic about Nuclear energy
  • Why agriculture offers good opportunities to investors
  • Why Myanmar is the best investment opportunity in the world right now
  • Why there could be further unrest in the Middle East
  • Why we should let Greece fail

Interview conducted by. James Stafford of Oilprice.com

Oilprice.com: Jim, thanks for taking the time to join us today.

Jim Rogers: I’m delighted to be here, James. My pleasure.

Oilprice.com: It’s been an interesting period in the energy world as we’ve seen oil prices steadily decline over the past few months and with the problems in Europe and slowdowns in India and China do you expect this trend to continue?

Jim Rogers: Well, there is certainly a correction going on for various reasons. I think Saudi Arabia’s trying to help re-elect Mr. Obama. There are also stories that JP Morgan has problems in its London office with a lot of unauthorized positions they’re having to liquidate. I don’t know what’s going on, but I do know that corrections are normal in the industrial world. There’s nothing unusual about it. If it continues, there’s an opportunity to buy more.

Oilprice.com: I read a report by the Economist Phil Verleger who thinks that the Saudi’s massive increase in oil production along with other economic problems could cause oil prices crash to $40 a barrel oil and $2 a gallon gasoline by November. Do you think this is a reasonable forecast and we could see oil at these levels?

Jim Rogers: We could see anything. We certainly saw lower prices than that back in 2008 when there was a collapse. When things are collapsing, all sorts of strange things happen. We found that out in 2008 and we will probably find out in the future, as well. If oil does go to $40, that means it’ll just be setting up an even more bullish scenario for the duration of the bull market.

Oilprice.com: How do you see the energy markets reacting to the Iranian sanctions, which are going to be coming into effect on the first of July?

Jim Rogers: Oh, I don’t see that having much effect at all. Everybody already knows about that – nothing new to the markets. They have long since adjusted to this news, whether it be stock markets, smuggling, etc. The Iranian sanctions are a non-event as far as I’m concerned.

Now, an attack on Iran would not be a non-event, but this is just more noise.

Oilprice.com: The Middle East Petocracy’s, along with Venezuela and Russia must be nervously watching the price of oil. Can you see potential problems developing in these countries and other oil producing nations if prices continue to fall?

Jim Rogers: That’s part of what I was saying before. The lower prices go for the fundamentals, the price of fundamentals improve, but for these countries the money they have available to buy peace is running out and there are going to be problems, because a lot of people have been lead to believe that the government can solve their problems and if the government runs out of money, it makes people upset.

Oilprice.com: Crude oil has dropped from $108 a barrel in February to $84 today. Do you think low oil prices could provide an economic stimulus?

Jim Rogers: Certainly, it’s an economic stimulus for everybody who buys oil. There’s no question about that. On the other hand, for people who produce oil, it’s a negative. Now obviously more of us buy oil than produce oil, but it’s important to remember it does cut both ways.

Oilprice.com: Less than 0.1% of U.S. cars and trucks run on natural gas and with falling natural gas prices and America’s dependence on oil and vulnerability to oil price shocks – I was hoping to get your thoughts on natural gas usage for transportation?

Jim Rogers: Well, If natural gas stays this low compared to oil prices, it does give an incentive to develop natural gas powered vehicles and I think we are going to see more and more developments here. Is it going to end the use of oil, combustion engines? Probably not any time soon. Someday it could, but someday is a long way away.

Oilprice.com: Do you believe natural gas prices are near to a bottom, or do you think they have further to fall?

Jim Rogers: U.S. natural gas is somewhere near its bottom, in my view. The problem is I expect to see serious economic problems in 2013 and 2014 in the U.S. If and when that happens, we’re going to see a final panic in the markets and the economy and everything will have a crescendo and a selling climax.

We’re certainly a lot closer than we were. Although, when you have a selling climax in markets, you go to levels much lower than most people believe possible and that may happen. Whatever that bottom is, it’s not too far from the recent lows in natural gas.

Natural gas in many other places such as the UK are much, much higher than they are in the U.S.

Oilprice.com: The Arab Spring shook energy markets in 2011 – are there any potential geopolitical events taking place apart from the Iranian situation that could cause oil prices to skyrocket?

Jim Rogers: There are always geo-political possibilities. If oil goes down, Saudi Arabia’s going to have more trouble buying peace. Any country’s going to have more problems buying peace.

Iraq is being driven into the arms of Iran. America has spent staggering amounts of money in this region, and what we’re getting for it is a possible alliance between Iran and Iraq.

All sorts of things could happen in the future, especially if Iran and Iraq get closer together. That’s going to put America in a terrible situation, the world in a terrible situation. The good news is the world is always changing dramatically. The bad news is, the world is always changing dramatically.

Oilprice.com: The media has gotten behind shale gas and it’s being promoted as a worldwide energy saviour. What are your thoughts on shale gas? Do you think it’s been oversold or it really is the cheap and plentiful oil extender we have been hoping for?

Jim Rogers: I don’t know how cheap it is. The technology’s getting better, apparently. The cost too because the environmentalists and politicians are getting worried about it. But I don’t know enough about the technology to know for sure. I do have confidence in mankind and someday we will have the technology and expertise to fully exploit these resources.

Someday’s still a long way away though, and in my case, I don’t know how long life the fields are. If these are short-lived fields and short-lived wells this is nothing more than a flash in a pan, which may last for a few years.

Oilprice.com: Moving away from fossil fuels – I was hoping to get your opinion on renewable energy. Do you see this as a sector investors should be avoiding – or are there opportunities here in the future?

Jim Rogers: That is your premise, if oil stays high alternatives become more competitive. Most alternative energy is not competitive at this moment in time but that could change.

If oil prices go down and stay down the subsidies for alternatives are going to have to be pretty massive to make it even viable.

However, having said that, if you can find competent companies that can make money in the field, they’ll make a fortune. Find the right companies and you’ll do well.

Oilprice.com: Are there any alternative sectors you’re more bullish on than others? Say solar, wind, geothermal, hydro?

Jim Rogers: No, no. They all have pluses and minuses. I’d be most optimistic about the ones that are economically competitive. I guess atomic energy is most economically competitive.

Oilprice.com: What are your thoughts on nuclear energy? Is there a future for this power source or due to public safety perceptions is it something politicians will feel forced to abandon or sideline?

Jim Rogers: I don’t think people will abandon atomic energy. It is competitive, it is economic, it is very clean if controlled. If it’s not controlled it’s a disaster of course. I suspect you’re going to see another revival of atomic energy. The French, the Koreans, the Chinese, many countries are going forward with their nuclear power development plans.

Oilprice.com: I’ve seen in other interviews that you’ve predicted that 2013 and 2014 will be bad years for the economy. What is an investor to do? Are there any commodities, stock or instrument people can go to for safety and capital preservation?

Jim Rogers: No such thing as safe when you talk about it. Even if you put your money in cash, if you put your money in the wrong cash, you lose a lot of money. As the people in Iceland have found out, as the people in Europe on the Euro have found out. So, no such thing as safe.

What I have done is I own commodities on the theory that if the world economy gets better, I’ll make money because of shortages. If the world economy does not get better, people will print money. The best way to save yourself when money printing is going on is to own commodities.

It does not mean between here and there, they can’t go down in a panic. In the meantime, commodities will be the thing to rally once that happens, but they can go down. Therefore, I have also short stocks as a hedge against myself. If the world economy doesn’t get better, you’re going to be losing a lot of money in stocks.

Oilprice.com: Now are there any commodities you’re particularly bullish on at this moment in time?

Jim Rogers: I’m more optimistic about agriculture than anything else, just because of the price. Most agriculture, I feel very depressed on the risk side basis. Sugar is 75% below where it was 38 years ago. There’s not much in the world that’s as depressed as agricultural current prices. So, I would say agriculture.

Oilprice.com: You’ve owned gold for 11 years now and the price is currently correcting. Do you see this as a buying opportunity or would you wait a little longer?

Jim Rogers: I’ve actually owned gold for longer than 11 years. I’m not buying now. Gold went up 11 years in a row, which is extremely unusual for any asset. I don’t know of any asset in history that’s gone up 11 years in a row without a correction.

Corrections are normal and are the way things should work, the way things do work. Having said that, I don’t know when the correction will stop. It’s normal in my experience for corrections to go down 30 or 40%. It’s just the way markets work.

Gold has not gone down that much. It’s only gone down that much once in the past 11 years, and even then it ended the year up. I’m not buying gold at the moment. If it goes down a lot, I hope I’m smart enough to buy a lot more. I’m certainly not selling my gold, because I suspect gold will be much, much, much higher over the next decade.

Oilprice.com: You’ve mentioned in the past that you’re bullish on Asia. Where do you see the best opportunities for investors in this region at present?

Jim Rogers: Probably the best investment opportunity in the world right now is Myanmar. In 1962, Myanmar was the richest country in Asia. They closed off in 1962, and now it’s the poorest country in Asia. I see enormous opportunities there because they’re now opening up. It’s like when China opened up in 1978. There were unbelievable opportunities going forward. The same is true in Myanmar now in my view. North Korea, I expect to see the same sorts of developments.

Oilprice.com: You’ve mentioned previously that the 21st century belongs to China. But China has some serious internal problems as its political stability depends heavily on rapid economic growth. We are also seeing increasing tensions between the wealthy coastal regions and the poor interior. My question is do you think the internal forces building up in China can be managed as China is held together by money not ideology?

Jim Rogers: What you just said about China’s true of every country in the world, more so in places like America and Europe than in China. China does have internal problems. But their economy’s much stronger than the western economies. You had riots in the streets in the U.K., what, last summer. Terrible instability, and there’s going to be much more in the west. Greece, Spain, Portugal, these countries have staggering instability.

In America in the 1930s we certainly had all sorts of political problems and yet survived, partly because America was a very large credit nation and had the assets to see us through.

America came out of that and became the most successful country in the 20th century. China’s going to have plenty of problems. Plenty. I’d still rather invest in China than in other places.

Oilprice.com: You mentioned that with Spain and Greece we should just let them go bankrupt – what do you really see the implications of this being. Will it be as bad as we have been led to believe?

Jim Rogers: Might be worse. The good news is we’ll get their problems behind us. The way the system is supposed to work is when people fail, they fail. Then you come in, you reorganize. Competent people come in, reorganize, and start over with a sound base. This has been going on for thousands of years.

It’s a little bit like a forest fire. When you have a forest fire, it’s terrible, terrible, but it cleans out the underbrush, cleans out the dead wood. The forest, when it’s all over, is much stronger and has much better growth.

Same with financial problems and bankruptcies. You start over and things are better.

Oilprice.com: Now, moving away from the markets, I was hoping you could tell us a little bit about your book, “A Gift to my Children,” the inspiration behind writing it and what you hope it achieves.

Jim Rogers: Well, I came into parenthood late and I never wanted to have children. I thought children were a terrible waste of time and money and energy. I felt sorry for friends who had children. Then I had some.

I’ve had some failures in my life, I’ve had a few triumphs. I started writing down the things I learned. I wanted to make sure my children knew all of these things. That turned into a

magazine article, and the next thing you know it turned into a little book.

Grownups get a lot more out of it than children do because it’s really a book for grownups.

Oilprice.com: What are lessons within the book? Why would I go out and buy the book? What am I going to learn?

Jim Rogers: I hope you’ll learn to be famous, happy, rich and successful.

Being happy, that’s the main thing I’m trying to help with. If you’re happy, not much else matters in life, at least in my experience. There’s various ways to be happy, of course. I’m trying to tell people the things that I have learned. I’m trying to teach them to be curious, independent. It’s very hard to think independently, as you probably know. Extremely hard. Most people are not very curious, If they see it on TV, that’s what they accept instead of thinking, what’s really going on here?

I’m teaching readers to be curious, skeptical, independent thinkers.

Oilprice.com: Fantastic. Jim, thank you ever so much for taking the time to speak with us. It’s been a pleasure speaking with you.

Jim Rogers: My pleasure

To find out more about Jim’s book A Gift to My Children – please visit Amazon for more details.

Interview by James Stafford of Oilprice.com


Rep. Ellmers on Obamacare Repeal, July 10, 2012


Rep. Renee Ellmers on the House floor calls for immediate repeal of Obamacare; talks about letter to Harry Reid requesting vote in Senate on Obamacare repeal, July 10, 2012.

Make sure where your Representatives stand on this…

July 10, 2012

Senator Harry Reid

522 Hart Senate Office Bldg
Washington, DC 20510

Senator Reid,

This week the House will again vote to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act which was enacted two years ago under the guise of health reform, but has since been confirmed as the largest tax increase in American history.

The Affordable Care Act, not yet fully enacted, has already put undue burdens on thousands of small businesses across the country, increased costs, and is reducing access to quality care for millions of patients. Repealing this bill means paving the way for better solutions that will lower the costs of healthcare without raising taxes, or taking healthcare decisions out of the hands of patients and their doctors.

When the House votes again to repeal the Affordable Care Act, I urge you to let the bill have a vote in the full Senate.

The American people deserve responsive and effective leadership from those who are elected to higher office, and to know where their representatives fall on this issue given its new designation as a tax. Failing to allow a vote on this bill in the full Senate is a failure to understand the expectations the American people have placed on their elected officials.

Reforming the healthcare system and ensuring patient-centered access to care is not a Republican idea or a Democrat idea – rather it’s an obligation all of us have to the American people.

My colleagues and I urge you to allow a vote in the full Senate on the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, so we can begin to fulfill that obligation together.



Renee L. Ellmers

Member of Congress


New Poll: Majority of “Likely Voters” believe Obama is destroying USA

By: Jeffrey Klein
Political Buzz Examiner

President Barack Obama reminds us of a “broken record;” not the great achievement kind, but rather the [scratched] vinyl kind of yesteryear, where the needle would get stuck in a groove and annoyingly play the same verse, over and over again…as if there was nothing else of value on the remaining record.

Today, while giving a teleprompter-aided press conference from the East Room of the White House, Barack Obama said he wants to break through the “stalemate” over taxes in Congress, according to a FOXNews article today.

He argued that sustaining the current tax rates for top earners puts too big a hole in the federal budget, saying “we can’t afford to keep that up.”
Instead, he once again called on Congress to extend those rates for one year, but just for families earning less than $250,000; failing to do so, he said, would be a “blow” to families and a “drag” on the economy.

“We don’t need more top-down economics,” Obama said. “We need policies that grow and strengthen the middle class.”

Disappointingly, last time the issue was brought before the Congress, it was estimated to add just $85 billion per year in tax revenue–enough to run the federal government for a mere eight days.

And shamefully for Obama, even though this measure was expectedly defeated in the Republican-dominated House–it could not pass in the Democrat-led Senate either, which he neglected to mention, before blaming this stalemate squarely on … “the other party.”

The real problem for Barack Obama is that his lack of any knowledge about capitalism, which is showing in his continuing to promote this totally “class warfare” oriented bill, and he knows that his growing political impotence cannot even overcome the push-back amongst his own party members.

Make no mistake, Congressional Democrats still remember the 85 faithful who were “sacrificed” during the November 2010 mid-term election blitzkrieg, because they chose to ride the president’s Obamacare train–without a single Republican on board.

For the wise among them, this is deja vu.

The proof of their wisdom that Barack Obama is careening off the rails is simple.

If by retaining the so-called “Bush tax cut rates” for the “middle class” only, for whom he proudly barked … “I have cut taxes 18 times for small business owners since being in office,” then why have we suffered stubbornly high unemployment and a stagnant to declining economy over these past four years?

Like labor unions, President Barack Obama and most Democrats have outlived their usefulness and have become a drain on the economy and moral fiber of America, which is born out by a poll released last Thursday, as reported by Sheldon Alberts’ today in “The Hill.”

A new poll for The Hill, conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, found 56 percent of likely voters believe Obama’s first term has transformed the nation in a negative way, compared to 35 percent who believe the country has changed for the better under his leadership.

That feeling is strongest among Republicans, at 91 percent, while strikingly, 1-in-5 Democrats agree, while centrists are evenly split with 40 percent saying the United States is better today and 42 percent saying it is worse off.

Obviously Obama and the Democrats have finally shocked and harmed enough “Likely” voters into recognizing that their Liberal dream bares more of a resemblance to a biblical-scale plague, as fully 77 percent believe that the choice between Obama and Romney in November is “Very Important for the Future of the Country,” according to the second to last question in the poll.

So, as a majority of Americans believe Barack Obama is destroying our nation, come November it will be time to reclaim our government, and as our country was founded on Christian doctrines, and as 87 percent of Americans are Christians–it is time to return God to the center of our country where He belongs.