Archive for August 1st, 2011

by jhwygirl

I’ve not read even a portion of it, but here’s the entire enchilada of the deficit ceiling bill (or whatever the cool kids are calling it today).

What I did pass by today in my quick reads was this story which has $21.6 billion in savings for the taxpayers, but will cost students dearly. From the story:

This change would shift some $125 billion in loan volume over to unsubsidized loans and would cost students $18.1 billion over the next decade, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

The student loan cuts start on page 71.

The whole student loan program is screwed up. The federal government guarantees student loans. They pay the interest on these loans while students are in school. Students get loans from banks. Banks get the money from the feds and charge students interest. Tell me that isn’t screwed up.

Why can’t the federal government back these loans? They can back Canadian-built transmission lines but they can’t back the higher education of its citizens? Student loans are a guaranteed steady source of income. You can’t default on them. Why does the federal government loan money at treasury rates to banks that will charge 7% or more in interest on loans that they know they will be able to collect? That’s just plain stupid.

We’ve handed the Class of 2011 one hell of a mess. They aren’t going to find jobs in this economy – and now we’re gonna make ’em fund the banks should they choose to further their education while the economy recovers?

We didn’t just push this stuff off on the middle class – we directly billed a bunch of 20-somethings.

by jhwygirl

It’s more of a sign of the changes in communication than anything, but the closing of rural post offices across America will have a deafening effect on the social center of many towns so small that even google maps had trouble finding a few of the places right here Montana.

Places like Helmville and Olney and Decker and Divide and Dixon. Peerless, Kremlin and Biddle. Places that once the post office is gone, so is the town. Places I’ve never heard of and I bet there’s a place or two on there that all of ya’all never heard of either.

Ever see those signs along the railroads with names? I can picture a few along Hwy 93 south, on the drive down to Darby…and another few anywhere along I-90. Those were places with names, just like those post offices. In some of those places now, there’s not even a home in sight.

I’m always searching for these signs of lost history in my travels. Foundations of what were old one-room schoolhouses 15 miles into the forest. Old cemeteries on top of mountains. I once came across a very large cemetery in the middle of what seemed nowhere and later found out it was the bodies of over 250 miners, the result of a disaster that dismantled the town. And the mine.

The Town of Lincoln was 10 miles north and west of its current location – and I’ll gladly take a correction on the accuracy of that mileage. If you’re familiar with that country, you’re probably scratching your head on that one.

We’ve got internet now – and cell phones and cable tv. Satellite too for all that stuff. I don’t know how practical all of that works for rural Montana like some of those places I name above – I’m kinda betting that many of those people buy most everything but food and feed supplies for their animals via mail order.

All of the state’s papers covered this story, and they even referenced that the Postal Service Commission was taking public comment on the proposed closures – but not one that I could find provided any information on how to provide that public comment. Considering how many Montana post offices that may potential close, I thought to dig out some information that people might find useful.

I put together that little map above – I was more curious of the spread across the state, and it does seem that the very western part of the state escaped the hatch. Also here is the USPS press release, which explains what they are studying and where to provide public comment.

When contacting the Postal Service Commission, be sure to reference Docket N2011-1, called Retail Access Optimization Initiative.

I understand the necessity of this move – some of these places cost the USPS dearly to operate. Sen. Max Baucus summed it up pretty succinctly, telling the Postal Service Commission “Closing a post office in Alzada or Rapelje is not like closing a post office in Washington, D.C. or suburban Virginia and Maryland. Folks simply cannot drive a few blocks to reach another one.”

Sen. Tester, for his part, questioned the USPS on its salaries for its top executives – $800,000 for the Postmaster General.

Tester, during a Senate hearing on the nominations of Mark Acton and Robert Taub to the Postal Regulatory Commission, said that the salaries of top executives should be at the top of the list when cutting costs.

“Quite frankly, when times are tough, when you start cinching your belt down, that ought to be the first place we’re looking, not the last place,” Tester said.

Rep. Denny Rehberg, as of this writing and after a review of his website, hasn’t had a word to say about the closures.

Maybe Fed Ex and UPS got to him first.

By Duganz

For years I’ve been on the wrong side of the American fiscal debacle. My big plan–silly as it seems now that the debt ceiling will rise yet again–revolved around the “Stop Killing Thousands of People We’ve Never Met Because That’s a Giant Waste of Money, and Soldiers” initiative. The SKTPWNMBTGWMS Initiative has been slow going because of three things:

  1. American politicians like killing strangers
  2. If we don’t do it, who will?
  3. Hard to remember acronym

But, after seeing the cuts that are coming our way, cuts that will be felt most by the neediest in our fine country, I’m ready to start pitching PlanB. PlanB is an initiative that has bipartisan support (I mean just look at the Medicare cuts we’ve made!), and will also fulfill America’s bloodlust–can you say “Fourth of July Extravaganza”?

But why should I tell you my idea, when Jello Biafra has already made the point so poetically in song?

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