Tag Archives: 1993

They can’t take us all! The Weyer Hall Stampede of 1993, a failure of democracy

10/15/2012 – Portland, Oregon – Pop in your mints…

In today’s Mint, we offer, for your enjoyment, an event which transpired during our time of service on the democratically elected dorm council as secretary at Weyer Hall, circa 1993.  While the narrative touches upon many themes that will no doubt evoke strong emotions, we humbly offer it as an example of the shortcomings of governance by democratically elected bodies.

It is recounted here, with certain liberties, in loving memory of Ma Tinder, long time dorm Mother at Weyer Hall.  Enjoy!

The Stampede.

During our short, but eventful time as a student at Hastings College, we resided in Weyer Hall, an all male dormitory which housed 70 residents.  While we assume that the College Administration had ultimate responsibility for campus governance, each dormitory was governed by a small group of democratically elected peers who sat on what was known as the dorm council.

During the Fall semester of our sophomore year, it fell to us to serve on the council as Dorm Secretary.  We say fell, because we did not exert much effort in our campaign, nor did we crush an inferior opponent in a moderated debate.  For all we know, we may have raised our hand at the wrong time, an innocent mistake which caused our name to land on the ballot.

Nonetheless, we were determined to serve our fellow residents to the best of our abilities.  As Secretary, our responsibilities included taking notes of the decisions of the dorm council, which invariably included the details of certain disciplinary actions taken against those who did not follow the rules and were foolish enough to get caught, publicly recognizing noteworthy accomplishments of the residents, if any, and informing them of upcoming events.

Our diligent dispatches reached the desk of the College President as well as the backs of every bathroom stall in the dorm, where they were most likely to be read.  For a time we created toned down, official version of the dispatches for the President.  However, our inner laziness finally demanded that we produce just one dispatch, complete with all of the juicy tidbits and unsolicited commentary fit to print.

The President seemed to love it.

The dorm council meetings were held in the quarters of the Dorm Mother, affectionately known as Ma Tinder.  Ma Tinder’s quarters were located at the center of the first floor of the three story structure.  She resided there, along with her dachshund “Peanut” as a source of calm in what was otherwise a cross between “Revenge of the Nerds” and “Animal House.”

The dorm council’s business, which it faithfully discharged at its monthly meetings, was to decide trivial matters, such as the design of the dorm t-shirt (which is fodder for another day), as well as to enforce the rules of the dorm.  Violations of the law of the dorm included residents found to have invited a female to the premises without signing them in at the desk, excessive noise, possession of alcohol and other illegal substances, and in one infamous case, the unlawful operation of a charcoal grill…indoors.

Weyer Hall
The tranquility of Weyer Hall was about to be transformed
Photo Courtesy of Hastings.edu

The dorm council, as with any governing body, was divided into unspoken but acknowledged factions.  Those who were there to enforce the rules, and those who were there to ensure that the rules, if enforced, were loosely interpreted and administered with clemency.

You can imagine which camp the younger Mint fell into.

So it happened that on a Sunday afternoon, as winter descended upon Central Nebraska, the dorm council assembled in Ma Tinder’s quarters during mandatory “quiet time,” as was the custom.  As we were discussing matters of relatively trivial importance, a pounding noise, distant at first, then increasingly loud and frequent, arose from somewhere in the interior of the building until it passed, as would a locomotive, directly above Ma Tinder’s isle of tranquility.

It was the Stampede.

Those members of the council who were firmly in the rules enforcement camp immediately sprang to their feet in pursuit of the perpetrators of what was obviously a direct affront to the authority of the council.  To flagrantly violate “quiet time” by running in boxers and boots, as heavily as one could, through the hallway directly above the meeting place of the council was not simply a minor violation of the rules, it was mutiny.

Those of us who found ourselves in the “loose interpretation/clemency” camp slowly arose, fighting off a chuckle, and give the appearance of chase as doors all over Weyer Hall immediately shut as the Stampede ended just as suddenly as it had begun.

For not only did we see the Stampede as an artful form of both coordinated self expression and protest, we had helped instigate it.

In the end, while the entire dorm was given a stern warning to respect the the rules, there were no individual indictments.  Like history makers throughout the ages, the Weyer Stampeders had proved their point,

“You can’t take us all!”

Stay tuned and Trust Jesus.

Stay Fresh!

David Mint

Email: davidminteconomics@gmail.com

Key Indicators for October 15, 2012

Copper Price per Lb: $3.70
Oil Price per Barrel:  $91.82
Corn Price per Bushel:  $7.33
10 Yr US Treasury Bond:  1.66%
FED Target Rate:  0.16%  ON AUTOPILOT, THE FED IS DEAD!
Gold Price Per Ounce:  $1,737 PERMANENT UNCERTAINTY
MINT Perceived Target Rate*:  0.25%
Unemployment Rate:  7.8%
Inflation Rate (CPI):  0.6%
Dow Jones Industrial Average:  13,424
M1 Monetary Base:  $2,449,400,000,000
M2 Monetary Base:  $10,157,100,000,000

Ode to the Auto Feo, Part IV – Acceptance and Admiration

8/29/2011 Portland, Oregon – Pop in your mints…

It was another beautiful weekend here in the Northwest, safely away from Irene and all of the mayhem that it has left in its wake.  Summer arrived a bit late this year and, like recent stock market rallies, has had trouble gaining traction.

One must be content with the days of sunshine that come our way, for our instinct tells us that they will not last.  For us here in the Northwest, that means days of sunshine must be enjoyed to the fullest.  In the stock market, it means that any near term rally should be seen as an opportunity to sell.

In the long run, as the wheels come off the US Dollar mobile, stocks should outperform most other paper assets.  In the short run, with Bank of America imploding, the resulting black hole threatens to suck a few trillion dollars out of the stock market.

Bank of America is too big to succeed and is in a hurry to raise capital that they do not need.   Given the incredible incentive that most Bank Executives have to misrepresent their circumstances, it is a wonder that investor would take them seriously.  Anyone who is not obligated to hold B of A stock and is still holding it is performing an act of charity, for that money will go quickly down the drain.

But enough about B of A, we have a story to tell.

That story is the sordid tale of the Auto Feo.  You can catch up with the “Ode to the Auto Feo”, Parts I,II, and III by clicking on the following links. 

Ode to the Auto Feo, Part I –  The Birth of a “Need”

Ode to the Auto Feo, Part II –Optimism and Desperation are Poor Bedfellows

Ode to the Auto Feo, Part III –Lemon Discovery

Our story continues:

We arrived at home much later than we imagined.  What should have been a brief run across town to kick the tires on a vehicle that we should have passed on had now become a frustrating and humiliating odyssey.  We were stuck with a car that seemed doomed to be scrapped within the week.  Our only consolation was that we had “only” dropped $1,300 on this bitter lesson.

We drove the overheating, smoking beast into our driveway.  We were dripping with sweat as we were forced to turn the heat on in a desperate attempt to moderate the vehicle’s temperature as the thermostat was not performing its designated function.

Still, our ever supportive wife was optimistic:

“It only needs to make it the 1.5 miles each day,” she reassured us.

“And it has air-conditioning!”

She appeared as sold on the vehicle as we were until the smoke, which we were later to identify as oil leaking from the engine block onto the exhaust system, began to fill the thick summer evening air.

The smoking of the Auto Feo produced a dry ice effect coming out of the hood on the passenger side which we were never able to repair (the only attempt the mechanic made served to make it worse.)

Then, she saw the keyhole, or lack thereof.  She shook her head.

“You say you didn’t notice this?”

All we could do was shrug.  It was an oversight of classic proportions, like forgetting to make gravy for Thanksgiving dinner.  There was no reasonable excuse that could be offered.

Her look confirmed what we had now known for about 90 minutes, we had been taken.

What could we do?  Given the discovery of the oil leaking and the lack of the keyhole, we deemed the vehicle unacceptable.  We had to attempt the unthinkable.

“We will humble ourselves and ask the Iranian to undo the deal,” we proclaimed, as if the matter were firmly under control.  Swallowing one’s pride seemed preferable to seeing a testament to our own ignorance and impatience in our driveway.

We will spare you the details of our three telephone calls to the Iranian that ranged in tone from bold appeals to the man’s honor to tearful groveling.  True to form, He out-groveled us and admitted that the cash had gone to his brother that fateful night.

We were stuck.

A Unique Vehicle - The Discovery of a James Bond Smokescreen

The next two weeks served to confirm that we had just made the worst purchase in recent memory.  In addition to the inconvenience of entering the vehicle from the passenger side and the permanent smoke screen that the vehicle threw off as it drove:

-We experienced random starter issues (i.e. the vehicle started or failed to start completely at random)

-The cherished air conditioner broke in a plume of smoke on 3rd day,

-After 7 days, the odometer stopped turning, which explained how a 1993 could have a mere 143,000 miles.

Still, the vehicle ran and served its purpose of carting us to and from the train station, a mere 1.5 miles down the road, and even though the starter worked only when it chose to, it rarely failed to start the motor after teasing us for a time.

With the initial bad taste out of our mouth, a strange sort of respect began to grow between ourselves and the mistreated vehicle.

“Just give us 12 months,” we told the trusty steed, which was obviously on its last legs.

Somehow, it seemed to understand, and six months passed without incident.

At that point, we decided to embark upon a dangerous experiment, an experiment that in hindsight was so ridiculous that it made even B of A’s robo-signing of foreclosure documents seem reasonable by comparison. 

We decided to put an end to the annoying smokescreen the vehicle threw off the cheapest way we could think of.  From that point forward, the only fluid we would put into the Auto Feo was gasoline.

Like B of A’s robo-signing adventure, it was bound to backfire.

Stay tuned and Trust Jesus.

Stay Fresh!

David Mint

Email: davidminteconomics@gmail.com

Key Indicators for August 29, 2011

Copper Price per Lb: $3.97
Oil Price per Barrel:  $87.63

Corn Price per Bushel:  $7.56  
10 Yr US Treasury Bond:  2.27%

FED Target Rate:  0.08%  ON AUTOPILOT, THE FED IS DEAD!

Gold Price Per Ounce:  $1,789 PERMANENT UNCERTAINTY

MINT Perceived Target Rate*:  2.00%
Unemployment Rate:  9.1%
Inflation Rate (CPI):  0.5%!!!   UP 0.7% IN ONE MONTH, 8.4% ANNUALLY AT THIS PACE!!!
Dow Jones Industrial Average:  11,539  TO THE MOON!!!

M1 Monetary Base:  $2,040,500,000,000 RED ALERT!!!
M2 Monetary Base:  $9,498,800,000,000 YIKES!!!!!!!

Ode to the Auto Feo, Part III – Lemon Discovery

8/25/2011 Portland, Oregon – Pop in your mints…

Oh Bank of America, how far you have fallen.  Today, B of A took a hand out that they allegedly do not need from Warren Buffett’s group.  For this ‘unnecessary’ $5 Billion of capital, B of A is paying 6% per year, a higher rate than many Americans are paying on their mortgages.

What a brilliant move, and one that should give equity holders just enough time to get out while they still have some pocket change left.  Brilliant for Buffett, we mean.  For B of A shareholders, it is simply the latest bungle by management who are naturally overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of the bank’s compost pile that it calls a balance sheet.

Like a compost pile, B of A’s assets should be allowed to disintegrate and be spread around organically to provide fertilizer for enterprises that actually contribute wealth to society.

In its current state, B of A as an entity is not only cannibalizing itself and its shareholders, but also nearly anyone that it comes into contact with.  As such, the term’s of Buffett’s deal have allowed him to go into the toxic mix with a biohazard suit on.  Berkshire should be shielded from the eventual collapse, albeit as a secured creditor.

But enough of B of A’s present woes, we have been relating a personal anecdote which may help readers understand the origins of what will be a spectacular slow motion collapse of B of A. 

At a minimum, we hope you get a laugh at our expense.

You can catch up with the Ode to the Auto Feo, Parts I and II by clicking on the following links. 

Ode to the Auto Feo, Part I –  The Birth of a “Need”

Ode to the Auto Feo, Part II –Optimism and Desperation are Poor Bedfellows

Our story continues:

We climbed into what our delusional mind had now identified as a BMW X5 smiling from ear to ear.  No, it was not perfect but the vehicle was powerful.  It felt like it was reliable and had been well cared for.  Heck, the A/C even worked and had recently been charged!  We were feeling extremely good about our purchase.

That feeling was soon to pass.

No matter that the Iranian had us call his brother to let him know we were purchasing the car.  Presumably it was to arrange a ride home but in retrospect it appears that there was a “family” debt that needed to be settled and the proceeds from the sale were of great interest to the brother.

For our part, we had to call our brother in law to arrange a ride home.  We drove our find back to Portland from Gladstone to pick him up, still in awe of our good fortune. 

Then, it began to fall apart.

The Illusion is Shattered

Not literally, of course, but the mental construction of the BMW X5 and more importantly the vehicle’s reliability were quickly demolished as we watched the oil pressure drop, the check engine light go on, and the temperature gauge quickly approaching the red line.

“What is going on?  This car was working flawlessly until now…”  We thought to ourselves.

“Are we seeing things?”

Our mind attempted to pass it off as an optical illusion.  After rubbing our eyes and focusing our mind, we turned off the A/C and reluctantly turned on the heater on that warm summer evening in a vain effort to regulate the temperature.

Then the car stalled.  In vain, our mind made another attempt, an appeal to the supernatural.

“Perhaps the car is possessed,”

We dutifully exercised our authority in Christ to cast out demons from the lifeless mass of the Isuzu.

The Isuzu, for we would never again see the vehicle through our rose colored glasses, started up and again we were off, albeit at a slower pace and with the heater running.

When we arrived at his house, we were concerned.  Maybe this car wasn’t worth $1,300.  Maybe it is just scrap.  Even so, we held to the hope that, if we could just get the vehicle home, it would serve its purpose to take us the 1.5 miles necessary for our daily commute.  We let the car cool off.

Upon exiting the vehicle, we noticed a small but very important defect that had escaped our eagle eye during the inspection:  The driver side door’s keyhole was a hole, as in, there was space where one would normally expect to insert the key. 

Now we were flabbergasted.  All of the other defects were somehow excusable because for the most part they had been invisible and had for whatever reason not manifested themselves during our inspection.  This one, under the circumstances, was humiliating.

Oh, how we wish we had heeded the spousal veto!

We went to the front door of our brother in law’s house a mere shadow of the conquering hero we had been just 30 minutes before.

We felt we had just thrown $1,300 down the drain.  It was not so much the sum that bothered us as the fact that we had allowed ourselves to become enamored with the vehicle and in the process had allowed ourselves to be blinded to its obvious faults.

After twenty minutes chatting with our sister, enough to let the vehicle cool down, we were off to Gladstone.  The sun had long since set and the blackness matched our darkening mood.

Our brother in law attempted to cheer us up. 

“This is a great car!  You don’t really need the lock on the door and once you get it home, it should serve its purpose.”

His words of encouragement sustained us for the next painful part of our all night journey, bringing home our error in judgment to show to our loving, supportive, and rightfully skeptical wife.

We doubt such fear struck the board of Bank of America as they reported Countrywide Financials mortally wounded loan portfolio to their shareholders for the first time.

 Stay tuned and Trust Jesus.

Stay Fresh!

David Mint

Email: davidminteconomics@gmail.com

Key Indicators for August 25, 2011

Copper Price per Lb: $4.08
Oil Price per Barrel:  $85.06

Corn Price per Bushel:  $7.30  
10 Yr US Treasury Bond:  2.24%

FED Target Rate:  0.08%  ON AUTOPILOT, THE FED IS DEAD!

Gold Price Per Ounce:  $1,759 PERMANENT UNCERTAINTY

MINT Perceived Target Rate*:  2.00%
Unemployment Rate:  9.1%
Inflation Rate (CPI):  0.5%!!!   UP 0.7% IN ONE MONTH, 8.4% ANNUALLY AT THIS PACE!!!
Dow Jones Industrial Average:  11,207  TO THE MOON!!!

M1 Monetary Base:  $2,033,000,000,000 RED ALERT!!!
M2 Monetary Base:  $9,478,200,000,000 YIKES!!!!!!!

Ode to the Auto Feo, Part II – Optimism and Desperation are Poor Bedfellows

8/24/2011 Portland, Oregon – Pop in your mints…

Today we will continue the saga of the auto feo.  If you missed part I, please click here to get up to speed.  It shouldn’t be difficult as the auto feo is currently at a dead stop.

But first, a quick look at the markets.  At this point in the day, everything appears to be literally on hold until the FED chairman Ben Bernanke speaks at Jackson Hole.  What will he say?  Our guess is not much.  Perhaps some dribble about standing prepared with all necessary tools to fight deflation.  If He were truly to use his post for something useful, He would encourage Congress to recapitalize US households, not banks.

Speaking of banks, Bank of America seems intent on claiming that they are in no need of capital even as they sit on $2 Triilion in assets of an imploding economy.  B of A made perhaps the worst choices of all time when they paid a premium for Countrywide and Merrill Lynch.  They may not have had much choice in the matter given the carte blanche that regulators had during the panic of 2007-2008.  Whatever the case, they are now choking on the sewage of the above mentioned entities.

Citigroup, on the other hand, may need another reverse split sooner than they think.  With that said, we return to our personal story of a bad acquisition.

We left our story yesterday arriving at our rendezvous with the then owner of what would soon become our next “Auto Feo.”  As we pulled into the parking lot of a large supermarket, nature called.  Not seeing the vehicle which we were to inspect, we entered the supermarket to tend to our personal needs.  As we were exiting the supermarket, we received a call from the owner, announcing his arrival.

Our pulse quickened.

We exited and there it was!  A black beauty of an SUV.  At that moment, as the sun began to set over the horizon, the 1993 Isuzu looked like a late model BMW X5.  We were about to make the bargain of the century.

Astute readers will note that what we saw that evening was a mirage, born out of the dangerous mix of optimism and desperation that was moving in our body to inhibit our ability to make an informed decision.  We can only assume the same was true when B of A was looking over Countrywide Financial in late 2007.

We met the man, an Iranian, who promptly handed us the keys as we hopped in for a test drive.  As the engine roared to life, we were able to overlook the cracks in the windshield and somewhat soiled interior.  After all, it is a ’93, we thought.

As we proceeded around the block, never exceeding 40mph, we were impressed.  “This is a solid vehicle,” we complimented the owner.

A Solid Vehicle Indeed!

“Yes,” he replied, “we purchased it from a family friend and it has been our family car for five years.  We have maintained it and most recently replaced the clutch.  It was very expensive.  In Iran, a clutch costs you $200, here, $800.  We have a better car now.”

A new clutch!  We thought.  What a steal.  We bonded with the man as we spoke of our children and family life.  This was no longer a negotiation, it became a matter of honor.  As we parked the vehicle, there was only one hope for us.

The spousal veto.

For those of you who have never been married, this is commonly known as “running the idea by our wife,” which in most cases can save one from making a bad decision or fending off persistent salesmen.

Excusing ourselves, for it seemed an unnecessary step when we were obviously getting a BMW X5 for a mere $1,350, we made the call. 

Our wife was predictably skeptical. 

“Don’t you want to see other options?” 

We assured her that this was the best deal out there. 

“It’s not that urgent, come home and sleep on it and see how you feel about it in the morning.” 

Out of the question, I did not want to waste another trip to Vancouver or Gladstone just to pass on a car.

Again, astute readers will recognize this last objection as the sunk cost fallacy.  We, of course, did not.

“Well, if you are sure…”

And with that, our loving, ever supportive wife relenting gave her approval of the purchase and the deal was done.

We went back to the Iranian and, with an unintentional pause before speaking, extracted a $50 reduction in the vehicle’s price.

At $1,300, the deal was done.  And almost immediately, our problems began…

Stay tuned and Trust Jesus.

Stay Fresh!

David Mint

Email: davidminteconomics@gmail.com

Key Indicators for August 24, 2011

Copper Price per Lb: $4.01
Oil Price per Barrel:  $85.72

Corn Price per Bushel:  $7.31  
10 Yr US Treasury Bond:  2.25%

FED Target Rate:  0.09%  ON AUTOPILOT, THE FED IS DEAD!

Gold Price Per Ounce:  $1,753 PERMANENT UNCERTAINTY

MINT Perceived Target Rate*:  2.00%  EASIEST MONEY EVER COMING IN JAN 2012!!!
Unemployment Rate:  9.1%
Inflation Rate (CPI):  0.5%!!!   UP 0.7% IN ONE MONTH, 8.4% ANNUALLY AT THIS PACE!!!
Dow Jones Industrial Average:  11,232  TO THE MOON!!!

M1 Monetary Base:  $2,033,000,000,000 RED ALERT!!!
M2 Monetary Base:  $9,478,200,000,000 YIKES!!!!!!!

Ode to the Auto Feo, Part I – The Birth of a “Need”

8/23/2011 Portland, Oregon – Pop in your mints…

Apart from earthquakes on the US East coast and Colorado all appears calm relative to the past two weeks.  Ben Bernanke is scheduled to speak in Jackson Hole today which may or may not change that.  As we have stated recently, with the FED’s most recent announcement of its intention to hold its funds rate below 0.25% until at least 2013, they essentially told the world that they were stepping back to let the chips fall where they may.

With the fate of the US dollar apparently sealed, we have a personal anecdote to share.  Like central banking, this is for entertainment purposes only.

A little over a year ago, our second car, which we affectionately call the “Auto Feo” (Spanish for “ugly car”) died.  It was a vehicle which had been struck by another vehicle on the passenger side, denting the wheel well.  The damage was cosmetic and only noticeable when one opened the passenger door, causing a horrendous sound of metal crushing metal.  While driving, the car would “bark” (as in, it sounded like a dog was after us) if the front wheel on the passenger side hit a sizeable bump, causing the tire to rub against the crimped wheel well.

The car served its purpose until the automatic transmission went out.  Even then, we were able to salvage a year of commuter service out of it before the transmission had a catastrophic failure, after which we finally took it to the junk yard.

Without much time to mourn, we set our sights on finding a replacement for the Auto Feo.

Based on a previous good experience, we wanted an Isuzu Trooper or Rodeo, any model year that could be had for $1,300 or less.  After passing on what in retrospect was the best option at the time (a 1995 Trooper) we were eager, perhaps too eager, to not let the next opportunity pass us by.

The Auto Feo - One vehicle, many lessons

We were ready to be taken for a ride, literally, figuratively, and with a pun intended in the worst possible way.

After doing our due diligence by surfing Craigslist, we found a 1993 Isuzu Rodeo with 143,000 miles on it which the owner was selling for the incredibly low price of $1,350.  We were intrigued.  In retrospect, we were sold before even driving the vehicle.  A dangerous frame of mind when one considers Craigslist’s non-existent vetting of sellers.  (Editor’s note:  We are not criticizing Craigslist, which offers a tremendous service, but rather our own lack of diligence.)

We were foolish, impatient, and determined.  It is a dangerous frame of mind to be in when making any purchase and a deadly combination of states of being when trolling the internet for a used vehicle.

As the warning lights in our mind began to go off, we pressed on.  We called the number and arranged to “see” (read “purchase” as it should have obvious that our mind was made up) the vehicle that very evening.

It was a warm early summer evening, pleasant in every way.  The wind was at our back, traffic was smooth as we wound our way across Portland to Gladstone.  What could possibly go wrong?

As we approached the rendezvous with our mystery seller, we were relaxed, optimistic, and the epitome of P.T. Barnum’s sucker…

Stay tuned and Trust Jesus.

Stay Fresh!

David Mint

Email: davidminteconomics@gmail.com

Key Indicators for August 23, 2011

Copper Price per Lb: $4.00
Oil Price per Barrel:  $85.77

Corn Price per Bushel:  $7.30  
10 Yr US Treasury Bond:  2.14%

FED Target Rate:  0.09%  ON AUTOPILOT, THE FED IS DEAD!

Gold Price Per Ounce:  $1,830 PERMANENT UNCERTAINTY

MINT Perceived Target Rate*:  2.00%
Unemployment Rate:  9.1%
Inflation Rate (CPI):  0.5%!!!   UP 0.7% IN ONE MONTH, 8.4% ANNUALLY AT THIS PACE!!!
Dow Jones Industrial Average:  11,177  TO THE MOON!!!

M1 Monetary Base:  $2,033,000,000,000 RED ALERT!!!
M2 Monetary Base:  $9,478,200,000,000 YIKES!!!!!!!