Monday, October 23, 2006

David Grubb: Indiana Outlaw on Youtube

Back in May, I wrote about Bloomington's resident coot, David R. Grubb, who's currently in jail for hitting a small child who wouldn't take candy from him.

Bloomington's Cable Access Television Station, CATS, at one time was the home of the early 90's slacker TV phenomenon that was J&B on the Rox, later just Rox, but mostly it's a county-government-level C-SPAN, broadcasting local government meetings, including meetings where Mr. Grubb flexed his oratorial muscles during the public comment segments, railing against Greed, Crud, and Fraud.

A few months ago, somebody known as 50YearRanger posted a series of 9 of Grubb's appearances during 2004 on YouTube, as 'The Grubb Files'. In the series you can see Grubb's gradual transformation from not particularly bad-looking old Midwestern dude with actually not a bad voice (in a different, better life, he might have narrated 'The Dukes Of Hazard') to a grubby (sorry) mountain man figure, complete with a leaf hanging from his beard in Episode 8: We Don't Need Michigan. I found out about this via Bloomington's 'Herald-Times', in an article last Sunday about this cool new thing called YouTube.

A couple notes for viewers from outside Monroe County:

Jeff Ellington, who Grubb attacks in Episodes 2 and 3, owns Ellington Stables, the home for PALS (People, animals, learning services) which is a facility specializing in therapuetic horse riding for individuals with special needs. So he'd appear not to be such a bad guy.

Bill Cook, who Grubb refers to as a 'taker' in Episode 7, Seduced By a Devil Worshipper, is Bloomington's benevolent billionaire, founder of Cook Inc, a company that makes medical devices. Cook is known for his generosity, including a $600,000 donation to a free medical clinic, and a $1 million donation to COPS, a charity for the families of police officers killed in the line of duty. Both of these donations are very recent examples, and there are many more.

Friday, October 13, 2006

We got robbed on the Nobel Peace Prize!

The gloomy Guses who wring their hands with their sob story about Americans can't compete in Science had to give it a rest for a while with this year's Nobel Prizes, when 6 Americans were awarded the prizes for medicine, physics, chemistry, and economics, and we dominated the awards like we do the Super Bowl and World Series. Then the dark cloud came back when we were denied a sweep, with some Turkish guy getting the literature prize, and the Nobel Peace Prize going to Bangladeshi economist Muhammed Yunus and his Grameen bank, which gives innovative micro-loans to entrepreneurs, which has the effect of lifting the bank's customers out of poverty. By reducing poverty, they create a more secure and as a result peaceful society. As it happens, the bank makes money, too, turning a profit in all but 3 years since its creation in 1976.

It hurts that this prize could not go to an American. When Yunus says "They're not asking for charity, charity is no solution to poverty", he sounds almost like a College Republican reciting the right-wing saw: "a hand up, not a hand out". Further, in America, companies like Cash King, Cash One, CheckMate, EZLoans, Money Mart, and Check'n'Go have been making small 'PayDay loans' to poor people for years. Poor Christian people wanting to borrow money from fellow Christians can go to Christian Faith Financial.

Of course, there are some differences between Grameen Bank and the typical Payday Loan franchise. Grameen Bank requires borrowers to belong to five member groups, so there is a motivation to pay back the loan to avoid the shame of having the other people in your group know you are a deadbeat. Also, according to the website: "Since the bank does not wish to take any borrower to the court of law in case of non-repayment, it does not require the borrowers to sign any legal instrument." Payday Loan companies threaten jail time as a way of collecting debts. Grameen offers interest rates of 20%, 8%, 5%, and a rate of 0% for 'Struggling Members'. Payday loan interest rates average just under 400%, although thanks to a measure passed by House and Senate Republicans that has nothing to do with the fact that Election Day is right around the corner, there is now a 36% cap on payday loans for service members and their spouses.

"We need to enact these new protections for our troops and their families because a growing predatory lending problem has impacted our operational readiness,"said Sen. Jim Talent, R-Mo., who pushed the measure in the Senate.

So, apparently by preying on the poor and increasing poverty, Payday loans cripple the U.S. military and threaten our readiness to go out and start wars. If that's the case, why can't whoever it was that started 'Check'n'Go' get the Nobel Peace Prize? If he's American, I mean.