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Bailout: Open Letter to The GA Congressional Delegation September 24, 2008

Posted by rscottgriffin in Politics.
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If anyone reading this is so inclined, please feel free to plagiarize me or take this and work it up in your own way.  I have emailed the below to Senators Chambliss and Isakson and my Representative, John Lewis.  I was prompted to write this by this article:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/09/22/dirty-secret-of-the-bailo_n_128294.html.  Please let your Representative and Senators know how you feel.  This is too important to trust the system.

Dear Senator Isakson,

I am writing to request that, absent safety protocols and oversight provisions put in place, including the possibility of judicial review, that you vote NO on the current financial markets bailout package proposed by Secretary Paulson and the Bush Administration.

I will be forthright, sir, I did not vote for you, but this current request by the Bush Administration and Secretary Paulson for $700 Billion of unfettered and unaccounted for taxpayer dollars that we do not currently have is beyond the pale.  I agree that some action must be taken, but certainly not in backroom deals with no Congressional oversight or potential of Judicial review (see Section 8).  The current proposal to take on yet more powers into the Executive Branch would not only be an abdication of responsibility by Congress, but would further undermine the Constitutional system of checks and balances that makes our government work, such that it does.

Our economy is not built on government ownership of such a large and unprecedented amount of assets.  I agree with both Senators McCain and Obama in calling for an oversight board or commission on how these funds are spent, a stake of ownership that will be paid BACK into the government (taxpayer) coffers should these instruments make a profit in the long-run, and a hard cap, including any bonus and separation packages, of the CEOs, Board members, and Officers of banks and other corporations that seek assistance from this fund.

I understand that measures need to be taken quickly, but the right measures must be considered and evaluated, not rushed to completion.  Work smart, work hard, and work with your Democratic counterparts.  We have seen the utter failure of trickle-down economics when times are good, but continual failure and lack of oversight of these institutions may solve Wall Street’s ills, but they will not make their way down to those of us with jobs and mortgages to pay.  As a constituent and a very concerned citizen, I ask of you, please, sir, use your voice and your vote so this does not happen.  Public faith and trust have been placed in you by the citizens of the State of Georgia.  Please let all of us know that it was deserved.  I will be sending the same letter to Senator Chambliss and Representative Lewis.

Thank you,

Scott Griffin, Atlanta

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I Do Not Like Lacking Information September 17, 2008

Posted by rscottgriffin in Life In Detail.
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I have learned something very important about myself.  I do not like it when I do not have sufficient information, and I do not like it when people will not give it to me.  When one avenue fails, I generally pursue another.  However, when all avenues fail, I tend to want to rant, and I start to turn into a “holy terror,” words the women in my family usually reserve for toddlers.  Well, I think it’s apt.

This all started today when I thought, “wow, it’s the middle of September, and I have yet to receive my property tax bill.”  Now, I have thought about this particular delinquency on the part of Fulton county from time to time, but today I had a moment, so I sent a quick email to a group list of fellow residents to determine whether or not any of them had received theirs.  I had two responses, both had received their bills last week.  (As a side note, another resident who I am friends with and ran into in the elevator told me that he had already received his as well.)  So, I decided to call the Fulton County Tax Commissioner.  Of course, I started at their Web site.  I was thrilled to learn that, yes, you could check a tax bill on-line!  Woo hoo!  (Given the above description of my attitude when I encounter “customer service” individuals that do not provide me the information I want, you can understand why I am such a fan of the on-line service – I can do it myself and get precisely the information that I want.)  So, I click on the link.  The system is down.  I call the office.  The response I receive?  “They’re still being mailed out.  You could receive it next week, too.”  Hhmmm….  Well, all in all, this would not have bothered me if I had not heard the following while on hold for ten minutes, “Fulton County taxes are due on August 15th, and City of Atlanta taxes are due on September 15th.  Failure to receive a bill does not [absolve (I’m picking a word I know for a fact they did not use, and may not even know the meaning of, but it seems like an appropriately strong word under the circumstances, and I can’t remember the one they used, so there you go)] you from paying your bill on time.]”  Really?  Well, that’s interesting.  You don’t mail the bills out until AFTER their due dates, and your computer system is down?  So, let me get this straight.  You are going to withhold information from me, yet charge me late fees for your not sending it in time?  Great.  Swell.  I hate you, I think.  So, I accept the nice lady’s statement as true, thinking I can check my mail when I get home, could be there, or I can check my online mortgage information to see if the bank has already paid it, which would make my life so much more worry-free.  And THIS is where it gets interesting.

So, I go to the handy dandy Bank of America home page.  There was a great on-line interface the last time I logged in, but no more.  Nope, no sir.  After I realized I had no idea if I had an online ID (no idea if my old one still worked) and after the SiteKey check started asking me information like the name of my first child (I’m pretty sure I didn’t give them Ella’s name), I opted for the on-line chat option.  Well, of course she asked me my account number – I don’t have it.  Okay, we can do this another way.  What’s your name?  Check, I know that one.  What is your address…yep, know that one, too.  Okay, how much was the loan originated for?  Well, this is where I think, “oh, BoA has both my mortgage and my car loan, so, she could have either one.”  I attempt to explain this.  It is for the account ending in ### ..whatever number it was.  Um, what part of “I have two accounts and do not have the account numbers in front of me” do you not understand?!?!  Seriously.  Pay attention.  So, I rattled off the figures I could come up with in my head for my mortgage.  Nothin’.  Then she started asking me about a deposit.  I do not have a checking account with you, I just want to know how to look up my damn information to see if my taxes have been paid!  I gave up.  The toddler was about type something excessively mean about her (it broadcasted her name, which I no longer remember, but I know it was a woman, so don’t think I’m being sexist) not having two brain cells to rub together and NOT PAYING ATTENTION.  Phew.  I’m okay, I really am.

So, once home, I went to set up a new on-line account, which was going swimmingly.  Then, it told me it would MAIL me my passcode…in 3-5 days.  Huh?  On what planet does it make sense that I register to access an account online but you send me my password in DAYS and through the mail?!  I’m incredulous, and getting more annoyed by the minute, which I think, at my current stress level could very well send me into one of those patented trantrums where I lay on the floor and scream and cry and pound my fists, feet, head, elbows, legs, knees …you get the picture – like I’m trying to pull a Michael Phelps across the hard-woods.  So, I call loan customer service.  Closed.  I find another number for on-line access.  After navigating through two 800 numbers and a hang up from the IVR, I finally spoke to a nice lady with Bank of America who manged to give me a temporary password so I could check my mortgage.  They haven’t yet paid my taxes.

So, here I sit, getting this out before I actually throw that tantrum and freak out the dog, and it occurs to me what is really bothering me.  I am asked to work miracles almost daily. “Do this.  Fix this.  Handle that.”  All of this with the expectation that I will go and seek out the information I need, parse what is important and what is not, then put it back together into something resembling an answer and a “problem solved.”  I have developed the expectation that others will also provide service and the information that I ask for and to simply, basically, THINK.  Or, at the very least put forth the effort to fake it.  But, I can see these people on the other end of the chat or phone, just sitting there, blankly staring, only able to process “see spot sit” sentences.  That is when I start to fume, and that’s when I have to start letting it go and realizing, like anything else dealing with people, there’s a process.  We take them as we get them I suppose, and we all constantly complain about it.  So, at what point do our expectations actually drive things to get better?  Then, I realize I missed my chance to give feedback – that stupid survey that no one ever takes because that extra two minutes is just too much to bare after dealing with all of the misery.  But, until we all start complaining, nothing will ever change.  We should also let them know on those rare occasions when something actually goes right.  Just breathe, I suppose….

Oh, and the other thing, I still have no idea what’s going on with my taxes.  I think the bank just paid them last year, and I’m cool with that.  I just want to make sure I have a bill for my write-off.  If anyone has any insight, I welcome your comments.

UPDATE:

I spoke with someone in the Tax Commissioner’s Office, who was very nice and very helpful.  She looked up my bill, which had been mailed out, and said that she would send me a new one today.  Lovely.  Oh, also, apparently they’ve pushed back the due dates until October 15th and 31st.  It’s on the Web site today.  I did not notice it there yesterday.  So, if you live in Fulton and were wondering about it,  I hope this helps.

Easy Like Sunday Morning… September 14, 2008

Posted by rscottgriffin in Uncategorized.
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Good morning.  So, in the interest of this actually being a blog, I am blogging.  I am up watching the Sunday morning news shows, but, unfortunately, they’re not saying anything other than the campaign talking points.  All I really want is someone to say, “Obama’s winning, again.”

Now Carly Fiorina is throwing out “ageism.”  She was my VP at Lucent when I was there…then she got booted from HP…um, not a real reliable source.

I will just sum up the weekend so far.  Trial. Prep. Sucks.  We go to trial on Monday, so everything is nuts.  I worked most of yesterday, but did get to catch a bit of the GT v. VT game.  😦  (We gotta work on the turnovers, and stupid penalties don’t help.)  Friday night, I worked until 9:30 and watched Happy Feet.  I am turning old and boring, and I don’t like it.  Damn, I’m John McCain!

So the highlight of the weekend was seeing the Indigo Girls last night – brilliant, moving…almost a religious experience.

Today I need to go into the office, so that pretty much sucks.  Maybe I’ll get fired up over something else, but I wanted to make sure I was actually “blogging” for those of you that said I was not updating often enough.  🙂

Have a great day, all 2 (maybe) of you!

 

UPDATE: The Tina Fey/Amy Poehler Palin/Hillary news conference is posted on NBC.com.  OMG.  Must. Watch.  And I really don’t care what they say or how they say it in Alaska…that accent is annoying!

Told ya somone would say somethin’ stupid… September 12, 2008

Posted by rscottgriffin in Politics.
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A friend of mine sent me this quote from the McCain campaign: “She’ll hold interviews when the press decides to show her respect and deference.”

Um, what??  This irks me, and here’s why.

One of the pundits said something that I think is an axiom – people like to be ASKED for their vote.  If you consider it an honor to serve in elected office, then you better prove, and state WHY, you deserve for me to vote for you, period.  This whole Rovian, “how dare you question us and our decisions” shyte is the antithesis of “putting the government back in the hands of the people.”  If they were really so concerned about that, they would have Govenor Palin in front of cameras every day, recognizing that it’s the public that gets to decide who they give deference to and who they don’t.  The media and “journalists” are the vehicle for the average american to do his or her vetting.  So, the fact that they are saying give her “deference and respect,” they’re showing the people that they represent the exact opposite of what they’re telling them.  The Obama campaign is exactly right.  This.  Is.  The.  Same. 

Another go at it. September 12, 2008

Posted by rscottgriffin in Uncategorized.
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I tried blogging before, but it was not so much a blog as me just rambling on at no defined interval about, well, whatever.  I’m sticking to the “about, well, whatever” format, but I hope to do this on a more regular basis.  Maybe even daily.  I had some people ask me to keep it up.  So, I’ll try again.  I would imagine that during this particular season, the politics category will see a lot of use.  But, the other ones probably will, too. 

So, there you go.  Yes, boring initial post.  It’s late and I’m tired.

I imagine that I’ll have something to say after one of our candidates does or says or wears something stupid tomorrow.  Until then….