Ramblings

I haven’t written in awhile so I figure I’ll make another cameo appearance.  It’s 9:15 p.m. and my wonderful wife is asleep on the couch already, we are such terribly exciting people. I’m not going to complain though, Boston is about to come on and hopefully they can open 2-0 vs. LA.  Here are some things that have been going on or thoughts that have been cultivating

  • Work is great.  I get to go to Vegas in a month for a two night trip.  Well, technically the trip is to Clark County, NV. But for those government people who are traveling with us, it doesn’t look so good to say, yeah, I’m going to Las Vegas…for business…right…I’m excited because I’m interested in visiting for a short time just so I can say I’ve been and see what it’s about.  It’s even better because Laura wants nothing to do with the city and it’s a business expense so no personal money.
  • We just got a HUGE contract at work for the next year, like multi-million dollar.  The project entails working with 10 major metropolitan areas: Seattle, Houston, Bay Area, LA, Honolulu, DC, Norfolk, Boston, New York, New Jersey/Newark and doing regional catastrophic planning.  It’s what I love doing and will entail some awesome travel.
  • Apparently everyone I work with is a major liberal.  We had an office lunch today and the entire time was spent ripping VP candidate Palin and belittling her as a person.  The comment was made, “she’s even dumber than Bush”.  I wisely ate my food and didn’t get involved.  I really didn’t feel like taking on a dozen other people.  That and should McCain and Palin win, putting up a large sign in my cube will be far better than any debate we could have now.
  • This who bailout thing doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.  I consider myself fairly educated, but I’ll admit my ignorance here.  I know I should be better informed, but it all seems so unclear.
  • Laura and I have been reading through Dave Ramsey’s financial peace, revisited book.  I consider myself well-schooled financially and fairly wise, but decided that his advice had worked for a number of people and you can always learn – so we’re reading it together.  One of the things that has stood out to me is that he discusses how our generation, mine and the one right before, or halfway, I’d say the 20-30ish crowd, want to live lives that reflect how our parents are living.  And he emphasizes how irresponsible this is. Think about it, our parents have been working for 20+ years to have a house, cars, retirement and good way of living. We want to live at that level and have those things now.  We aren’t patient, we comprise good financial decisions for immediate pleasure and end up in bad situations.  Think about the mortgage crisis, people wanted to buy houses, but weren’t in a position to pay for it.  Laura and I would love to be living in a house, but it makes more sense for us to rent right now. 
  • The only I do know is I’ve had a number of ideas for books and I’ll discuss them here.
    • Social Welfare and the Church – I despise the amount of money we give to the government and the number of services they provide.  The large number of these welfare programs are blatantly unconstitutional.  Show me where legally the government should have to pay for unemployment, education, welfare, etc., I challenge you to find it in the Constitution.   That being said, I understand that there are two things that have to be considered.  First, why did the government have to step in?  Second, what would the country do if all of these people were without support.  I’ll answer both.  The government had to step in because the church has fundamentally failed its responsibility.  If you look at the Old Testament community-orientated style and the New Testament direction to care for the widows and elderly, we can see the responsibility.  I’m not going to make my whole case here, but we’ve failed.  Now, what are we going to do about it?  Most churches already struggle to make ends meet and have to repeatedly preach on the importance of tithing and discipline in personal budgets.  I see a two-fold aspect to this.  First, people need to give more, and more faithfully.  God’s work should be the first priority, period.  Second, as the church receives more funding it should be utilizing it to reach out to the community and replace the government services (See McLean Bible Church for a good example).  As the Church replaces government services, taxes can be reduced or tax credits issued for charitable giving.  This progression will be lengthy and answers the 2nd of my initial discussions.  That’s the synopsis, I want to expand it and would love to write it in the next couple of years.
    • Personal Responsibility – I’m tired of hearing excuses.  Take responsibility for yourself.  As I said before I don’t know much about this economic crisis and bailout (Editorial note – BoSox up 4-0, heck ya!).  I do know that part of it begun due to ARM mortgages (Adjustable Rate Mortgages).  I’ve heard that there are predatory lenders, and I’m sure there are.  And I’m sure that there are people who are talked into getting mortgages for the maximum amount possible, when it’s not wise.  (When we moved to VA our realtor who found our rental townhouse told us we could be approved for a 400-500k house, we laughed at him, to his face.  Seriously?  That’s absurd)  But what I don’t understand is why ANYONE would take a stalk of 50+ papers (I’ve heard hand cramps happen during closings), not read the terms, and just sign away their life for hundreds of thousand dollars.  Read the documents!  This is just one area.  I think the issue of personal responsibility relating to welfare, education, etc. peeve me more, but the economy is “hot” right now. (Also, my discussion of Ramsey applies here)
    • Instant Gratification – This ties into personal responsibility and the Ramsey discussion, but deserves it’s own topic, I think. We as a society have developed into a want it, have it now culture. We don’t take the time to make wise decisions and consider the long-term effects.  Look at the media and government.  Everyone wants the government to fix things now.  Politicians are roasted over the coals for not being able to fix institutional problems in 2 years, much less overnight.  People want immediate tax rebates, solutions and quick fixes to make the problem look better, at least the facade.  As consumers, if we don’t have the cash we want to pull out the credit card and buy it, even if it means we pay an ungodly interest rate, at least we have that new: toy, gameboy, tv, ipod, etc.  We have to “keep up with the Joneses”.  We see this in big ways and small, but the small ones add up.  I’ll admit, I enjoy Starbucks, it’s good coffee, for the most part.  But research has shown that Starbucks is often as much a status symbol as it is a caffeinated, hot beverage.  When you think about it, how many people can really afford spending $5 on a coffee drink.  Heck you can buy a lb of starbucks coffee for $10-12, half and half for $2 and sugar for $2 and be set for two weeks probably.  Think of the savings, but we like to hold the green and white cup, I like to hold it too.  People even make assumptions if you have the cup.  When I was finishing my Masters I came from work one afternoon and got a regular coffee to keep me awake in class.  As I walked in a random person asked me, how much did you spend on that, $5 for coffee?  I retorted that it was only $2 because it was just regular brewed, but either way.  Why can’t we brew our own coffee and save money – we see the green sign and just have to stop.  It’s bad when it becomes not just the coffee, but the other amenities offered – it adds up.  Think about Starbucks once a week and every other week you get something else, we’ll say $5 for the drink and $2 for the side.  52 weeks times 5 is $260, and 26 times 2 is $52.  We’ve spent $312 at Starbucks, for coffee, or $24 dollars a month. And that’s just for one person.  If Laura and I did that suddenly we’ve spent $50 per month at Starbucks, yikes.  I can’t imagine those that go with kids on a regular basis who all order a drink, it’s gotta be a huge hit of $20+ a trip.  Any way, we live in a society that can’t wait, won’t wait.  Let’s be wiser, consider long-term effects, needs and learn to live within what we have.
  • Who knows if I’ll ever be able to expand on one or all of those, but I’d love to some day write them, we’ll see – I expect all of you to buy them if I do write!
  • Finally, Laura called it, I denied it, and I doubt the feasibility of it.  What is it?  Just a little thing, a multi-year process, called a Ph.D.  Unfortunately George Washington University offers a Doctoral program in Emergency Management within their Risk Management/Engineering Program.  This approach to the field interests me greatly and I’d love to pursue the degree.  However, at this time my company doesn’t pay for education and we can’t spend that type of money.  But if the price were right, I’ve found my program and it’s one I think I’d be willing to kill myself to do.  There’s something about the thrill of stressing over an exam or writing a paper last minute that draws me in.  Plus Laura wants to be able to refer to me as Dr. Icardi.  Yeah, 4-7 years, thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours for a title…But it would give me complete flexibility in what I wanted to do for the rest of my life, who knows.

That is all, GO NOLES, BEAT MIAMI!

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  1. #1 by Jill on October 7, 2008 - 1:45 am

    I hear you on keeping your mouth shut around outspoken liberals! I go to school with A LOT of them and I choose to keep my political commentary to my inner monologue.

    I also think about getting a PhD, but 4 more years of school is not something I want to think about right now! However, having “Dr” in front of my name would be cool.

  2. #2 by Matt I on October 9, 2008 - 11:31 pm

    Hey Mike, ya it can be hard not to want to debate with liberals, so true, but it would be pretty great if McCain and Palin won and you were able to inaudibly yell, “Oh ya! They won and they rock!”
    About those book ideas: sweet! I say go for them. I’d suggest Social Welfare and the Church for your first one:). It’s definitely a topic needing some attention. Cool, yep you can count on me buying it once you write it!!
    Hey, you should go for the Ph.D if you get the chance! It’s cool that you were looking at GWU. I do not plan going there, but I gotten stuff from them. That’d be cool. No, but if you think about it I could use some prayer with everything college-related:)

    Take care bro!

  3. #3 by Aunt Jen on October 17, 2008 - 10:44 pm

    Hi Michael,
    I am SO proud of you! So excited your job is going well, and you love it up there, and you both look great…especially Laura!

    Go Palin!!! I LOVE her…a breath of fresh air! I would love to see her turn DC upside down…and she could!

    I even forgive you for wanting to beat Miami!
    Keep in touch!

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