February 2009

[Editor’s Note: Greetings muchachos y muchachas! Your hombre-in-chief Angry New Mexican is back with a guest rant from our friend and reader Angry Overqualified Cable Representative. You see he works for The Cable Company. And stupid people call him. I mean really, really stupid people. How stupid? Read on – ANM]

Oh, I could go on and on…

Like the guy that got upset because the tech wouldn’t install his service because we asked him to put his dogs up and he refused. He said he didn’t have to, because it was his constitutional right to have dogs.

Or the guy that got upset at us because we were investigating him for stealing cable (he was; same guy, FYI). When I asked him if he was, he denied it. I replied, “Then you have nothing to worry about, sir.”

Or the student that was upset because we kept charging her for service over the holidays, even though she was out of town.

Or the man with the past due balance (Mr. Delinquent, we’ll say) that was setting up service in his mentally challenged daughter’s name, a different last name (Ms. Challenged); . He gave me a fake last name when calling, then when I asked to verify the account with her, I asked her if she’d like to add him to the acct as a registered user. “And what is his name?” “Joe Delinquent…I mean Joe Challenged.” As I asked him if he was aware of his past due balance, he hung up.

Or the woman that called wanting service, but wouldn’t pay her three past due bills. An hour later, another woman calls in to set up service at the same location, and gets the same rep. The delinquent woman is audible in the background…

Or the woman that called wanting Dave Coulier’s phone number, “You know, Uncle Joey from Full House on ABC Family.” Mind you, Full House had been out of production for the better part of a decade.

Or the woman who wanted to add HBO to her father’s acct. He had been deceased for several years, and the mother had been living in another part of the state. When informed she should get service in her name, she replied she couldn’t, because she had too many past due bills.

Or the drunk driver that hit me on the way home from work, then fled the scene on foot because he “couldn’t go to jail again.” Then he called into the office about his past due balance the next day, and got me on the phone.

…I’m going to stop now…

It was a little over a year ago I wrote about Ugo Chavez’s dramatic ability to run a fine country into the ground. Well the speculative bubble that held oil prices at record highs last year has popped and, with the global recession, oil is selling at $40/barrel, not the $80/barrel that Ugo needs to break even. (I don’t know about you but I make sure not to buy gas at Venezuelan-owned Citgo stations, to do my own nano-scale part to hasten Chavez’ demise.)

So today I wake up to snow, a cup of coffee and the Washington Post, and find this little gem by Edward Schumaker-Matos. Money quote:

Inflation in Venezuela is running at 31 percent, by far the highest in Latin America, and is expected to hit 45 percent this year. The official exchange rate is 2.15 bolivares to the dollar, but the black market is at more than 5 bolivares, a gap so large that the government will have no choice but to devalue the currency, which will cause local prices to rise still more. The government has enough reserves for the next year to continue subsidizing food prices, but that has caused food shortages. And the government is so far behind on payments to oil contractors that many have stopped working, cutting back production from the goose that lays the golden eggs. Oil accounts for 95 percent of Venezuela’s exports.

While I idly dreamed about a firing squad for Ugo, that reality may be closer than anyone thought. I doubt it, his pal Ah-ma-dinnerjacket will probably take him in, in style. Oh, wait, Ah-ma-dinnerjacket ain’t having so grand a time of it. Well there’s always, Tsar Vladimir, though he might not have too grand a time if oil stays down, either. If all else fails, they can always hot bunk on Radical Jack‘s couch….

Updates: Sigh.

And this.

Here’s a nice article on Tsar Vladimir’s current dilemmas.

My thoughts on a better stimulus package:

Borrow shit-tons of money via short-term T-bills at effectively 0% interest.
People are scared of risk and desire nothing more than to hand Uncle Sam their money for practically nothing in return. To be honest, as of February 12th, that 90 day T-bill rate was actually 0.3%. You can pull these numbers from the Federal Reserve here in case you don’t belirve me.

Buy as much commercial paper as you can (also short term) w/o distorting the market too badly.
Commercial paper is a form of a short-term unsecured loan to a company. As of February, 11th, A2/P2 non-financial commercial paper is generally giving 2.5% interest. Realize these aren’t shady, high-risk loans — companies that make A2/P2 status are generally really sound. Pre-2007 spreads on A2/P2 paper were below 0.25%.

As of the end of January, there were about $1,540.9 billion dollars of commercial paper outstanding, which means we could buy a whole lot of the stuff without seriously distorting the market.

Why do this? Because (a) provides basically solvent companies with badly needed credit — the higher spreads over T-bills as well as the general risk-aversion on the part of investors has made it hard for many companies to roll over their short term debt. (b) This matches short-term debt with short term credit. Uncle Sam isn’t stuck financing a long-term loan with short term credit. (c) This pushes down corporate paper yields so more companies can afford the credit they need. (d) Finally, this puts more money into Uncle Sam’s coffers w/o raising taxes.

When Eric Holder’s minions are in the US Court of Appeals 9th Circuit making arguments cribbed directly from the Bush playbook, you know this isn’t “change we can believe in.” The legal argument, “We may or may not have tortured people, but it’s a state secret so keep your nose out of Uncle Sam’s business,” has infuriated even the normally pro-Obama NYT. And really, I can’t blame them. Closing Gitmo is starting to look like little more than political theater…

From a recent Sun Times article on if Blagovich should have an official portrait comes an unintentionally funny comment with an Only-in-Illinois twist:

“If we’re going to hold him to a different standard, then we’re going to have to hold all other convicted governors of the state to that standard,” Dunkin said.

So, yes, you know it’s Illinois politics if you can use the term “convicted governor” in the plural.