A middle-aged man dreaming of the day when he can stop begging for scraps and write for a living.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Pet Rent

So, the lease is almost up on this rathole of an apartment, and I am once again tasked with the dubious pleasure of finding a new place to live. I have a hefty list of things I do not want to see in my next home: I do not want to see any more "surprise" fees. "Oh, by the way, you pay a portion of the water and heat for the building. It varies." "Oh, by the way, we have pet rent." Rental management has become the new way to scam people out of their money, and I'm more than a little fed up with it. I mean, come on! "Pet rent?" Please tell me how is this not a scam?

Don't even try to tell me this is a result of government interference in the market. Right now Colorado laws are virtually silent on tenant rights. About the only thing we can get government support for is if the management is maintaining a slum and have the city condemn the building. Otherwise, we effectively have no rights when we rent. Pest infestation? Too bad. Deceptive business practices? Meh. Outrageous fees? Suck it up.

In theory, this should create an opportunity for management companies to rise above the competitors currently screwing over their tenants by ditching the excessive fees and doing right by their customers, right? Well, this is the second time I've had to move in two years, and I'm waiting to see it happen. Don't want to deal with pet rent? I found one company who didn't demand it. But they're charging water and heat as an extra instead of including it in the rental price. Don't want water and heat to be a "gotcha" on your bill? Pay pet rent. Oh, and everybody has this whacked "administrative fee" for the privilege of applying for their substandard services. Okay, credit checks cost money. They do not cost that much. The Free Market Fairy claims I should be able to take my business elsewhere if I don't like the practices I'm seeing, but where am I supposed to go?

Ooh, I know the logical answer to this question: own my own home! Bullshit. Even if I could afford the down payment (which my ex-wife has guaranteed I will never be able to do in the next fifteen to twenty years), the market is still seriously whacked. I told people eight years ago that the rising market prices were unsustainable. I was told I didn't know what I was talking about. So, how's the equity on that new house you just bought? Bad and getting worse, I know. The housing market has hit bottom and is starting to dig. It's going to be years before it returns to equilibrium.

So, we have yet again another example of how the Free Market is a genuine myth that has little to do with reality. You still think our housing market is a result of government interference? Consider that these problems arose after the government deregulated the loan industry. If you still insist that the Free Market Fairy exists, I strongly recommend you check yourself in for some intense psychotherapy. There's a point where your failure to distinguish reality from fantasy becomes very unhealthy.

Monday, August 4, 2008

This one I had to sign.

I don't always sign online petitions. Their intended recipients rarely seem to pay attention, and I don't see this one being any different. But its message is so compelling to me that I have to spread the meme.

A Liberal's Pledge to Disheartened Conservatives.

To: Conservatives and Republicans

I, and my fellow signatories, hereby make these promises to you:

1. We will always respect you for your conservative beliefs. We will never, ever, call you "unpatriotic" simply because you disagree with us. In fact, we encourage you to dissent and disagree with us.

2. We will let you marry whomever you want, even when some of us consider your behavior to be "different" or "immoral." Who you marry is none of our business. Love and be in love -- it's a wonderful gift.

3. We will not spend your grandchildren's money on our personal whims or to enrich our friends. It's your checkbook, too, and we will balance it for you.

4. When we soon bring our sons and daughters home from Iraq, we will bring your sons and daughters home, too. They deserve to live. We promise never to send your kids off to war based on either a mistake or a lie.

5. When we make America the last Western democracy to have universal health coverage, and all Americans are able to get help when they fall ill, we promise that you, too, will be able to see a doctor, regardless of your ability to pay. And when stem cell research delivers treatments and cures for diseases that affect you and your loved ones, we'll make sure those advances are available to you and your family, too.

6. Even though you have opposed environmental regulation, when we clean up our air and water, we, the Democratic majority, will let you, too, breathe the cleaner air and drink the purer water.

7. Should a mass murderer ever kill 3,000 people on our soil, we will devote every single resource to tracking him down and bringing him to justice. Immediately. We will protect you.

8. We will never stick our nose in your bedroom or your womb. What you do there as consenting adults is your business. We will continue to count your age from the moment you were born, not the moment you were conceived.

9. We will not take away your hunting guns. If you need an automatic weapon or a handgun to kill a bird or a deer, then you really aren't much of a hunter and you should, perhaps, pick up another sport. We will make our streets and schools as free as we can from these weapons and we will protect your children just as we would protect ours.

10. When we raise the minimum wage, we will pay you -- and your employees -- that new wage, too. When women are finally paid what men make, we will pay conservative women that wage, too.

11. We will respect your religious beliefs, even when you don't put those beliefs into practice. In fact, we will actively seek to promote your most radical religious beliefs ("Blessed are the poor," "Blessed are the peacemakers," "Love your enemies," "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God," and "Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me."). We will let people in other countries know that God doesn't just bless America, he blesses everyone. We will discourage religious intolerance and fanaticism -- starting with the fanaticism here at home, thus setting a good example for the rest of the world.

12. We will not tolerate politicians who are corrupt and who are bought and paid for by the rich. We will go after any elected leader who puts him or herself ahead of the people. And we promise you we will go after the corrupt politicians on our side FIRST. If we fail to do this, we need you to call us on it. Simply because we are in power does not give us the right to turn our heads the other way when our party goes astray. Please perform this important duty as the loyal opposition.

I promise all of the above to you because this is your country, too. You are every bit as American as we are. We are all in this together. We sink or swim as one. Thank you for your years of service to this country and for giving us the opportunity to see if we can make things a bit better for our 300 million fellow Americans -- and for the rest of the world.


The Undersigned

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Don't You Dare!

The following is an open letter to the men and women who allegedly represent us regarding the War on Terror.

Mr. Mukasey is now demanding a new declaration of war enabling Mr. Bush, through his office, to abduct and torture any person on the planet in the name of our ephemeral war on terror. Simply put: don't you dare.

The war on terror has been a sham pretty much from the beginning. We accomplished one goal: driving the Taliban out of power in Afghanistan because they protected Osama bin Laden. Then we proceeded to throw it all out the window so Mr. Bush could start a separate war with Iraq. Now the Taliban are regaining their power in Afghanistan, bin Laden's whereabouts remain largely unknown and our citizens have been reduced to a state of constant fear -- less of terrorists and more of our own government.

I've previously demanded that the Bush administration be thoroughly investigated for war crimes and crimes against the American people. Those demands, along with similar demands from millions of my fellow Americans, have fallen on deaf ears. At the very least, listen to us now when we beg you not to rubber-stamp yet another expansion of executive power on the part of this administration.

Right now, the war that concerns me most is the war on freedom taken up by this government. Oppose it. Do whatever it takes to stop it. Our country was truly great once; help make it great once again.