Monday, September 26, 2011

National Debt Made Real

A stockbroker sent me an email with a short illustration as to why the financial status of the US was recently downgraded.  I imagine the following is floating around the internet.  Yet, it's a perfect explanation in easily understood terms:

Why the US was downgraded...

U.S. Tax revenue: $2,170,000,000,000 
Fed budget: $3,820,000,000,000
New debt: $1,650,000,000,000
National debt: $14,271,000,000,000
Recent budget cut: $38,500,000,000

Let's remove 8 zeros and pretend it's a household budget:

Annual family income: $21,700
Money the family spent: $38,200
New debt on credit card: $16,500
Outstanding balance on the credit card: $142,710
Total budget cuts: $385.

Does this clarify it?

Pretty enlightening, that example.  The complaint that we are indebting our children and grandchildren makes more sense.  The family debt must be paid off by future generations in some fashion-- whether by more taxes, printing of money (inflation), more borrowing (borrow from Peter to pay Paul), or transfer of assets to our creditors (China), or a combination of all.  While we have eliminated "debtors prison" in the United States, it can be seen that we are imprisoning future generations (i.e., we are taking away their choices and liberty) and leaving them to find a solution. 

Monday, September 12, 2011

Camping in Capitol State Forest

A couple of weeks ago our family decided to spend a weekend camping together in the Capitol State Forest near Olympia, the capitol of Washington State.  It is multi-use Washington State Department of Natural Resources land open to the public since 1955.  It's a working forest with active timber harvests throughout the year.  There is hiking, camping and hunting.  The northern half of the forest is also open to motorized off-road vehicles, while the southern half is open to horseback riding.  800,000 people visit the forest each year. 
While not everybody could make the trip, there's something about getting family together to spend some time in the woods and sit around the campfire.  There are no televisions, no radios, no computers, no cell phones, no electricity.  It's a time to just be family and talk. 
There is a lot of logging in the forest, but those plats are re-planted.  The campsite we picked was nestled in the tall trees next to a little stream.  But, the stream must be pretty powerful during the winter-- look at the size of the root ball on that fallen tree by the stream. 

This is a picture of a crayfish found in the stream.  We put it in a potato chip bag long enough to take its picture, then we put it back in the stream.  One of its claws was just growing back.  The stream had some minnows, but no fish of catching size.

One of the things I wanted to do was make a pot of strew over an open fire, sort of a joint effort.  Check out the cutting board made of a cedar plank.  When my kids were little we'd go camping and use sticks to eat beans out of cans heated over the fire.  That was intended to be a lesson in resourcefulness.  Compared to that, this stew was top cuisine.  That's daughter Sheila cutting the potatoes

There's something comforting about putting logs on a campfire and staring at the flames and embers.  It must go back tens of thousands of years.  It can be soothing.  Some of the wood was damp.  Somebody once said "Whoever believes 'where there is smoke, there is fire' has never tried starting a campfire."  We bought a few dry logs back towards town and that made all the difference.

That's son Scott setting up the chess board.  Can you beat that arrangement?  Even the moths wanted to get into the game.

The Capitol State Forest is pretty big.  To the east out across the valley you could see the Cascade Mountains.  To the north you could see the Olympic Mountains on the peninsula.  (Click on the lower map above for detail).

While we may not camp every weekend, and not every year, to go camping once in a great while is good for the family and good for the soul.  It also creates memories.  That's granddaughter Dani using a spoon instead of a stick.