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  • January 2005
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Here is a pretty cool story (in the MartyEmail sense of the word):
http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story2&u=/ap/20050105/ap_on_fe_st/boy_plumber

“MASSILLON, Ohio – Nine-year-old Joey Sinay is so interested in how toilets work that he wrote a letter to a toilet maker asking if they would produce a clear commode.

“He thought it would be neat to have a clear toilet in his house, so he can see how it works,” said Joey’s father, Nick Sinay.
The letter to Kohler, a Wisconsin-based plumbing product company, sent last year when Joey was 8, caught the company’s attention.
“It’s pretty unusual to get a letter like that from an 8-year-old,” said John Bashaw, the company’s custom service director.
A clear toilet wasn’t doable. But officials at Kohler wrote back twice. “We were so impressed by the fact that he took the time to write us a letter,” Bashaw said.
In December, the little plumber from Massillon got a present from Kohler — a state-of-the-art bulk flush toilet.
Joey, who keeps a toolbox under his bed, was nearly speechless. A local plumber agreed to help the boy install his dream gift.
“When we built our home, we would come over a lot when they were building it, and he followed the plumber around. He would just watch,” said Michelle Sinay, Joey’s mother.
With Dennis Potter of Ohio Spa & Parts taking the lead, Joey helped remove the old upstairs bathroom toilet and install the new one.
Potter taught the youngster how to install a toilet. He gave him tips and quizzed him on the many functions. By the end, Joey was working on it by himself.
Among his duties, Joey disconnected and carried out the old toilet tank. He unwrapped the new toilet seat, screwed it onto the bowl and discarded the product sticker.
Joey, smiling the entire time, was eager to learn from a real life plumber.
“Plumbers are guardians of the nation’s health because they take care of everything,” Potter told his apprentice.
For Joey, it wasn’t all that deep.
“It was just fun to put it together,” he said. “

I want to quote again a certain part:

“Plumbers are guardians of the nation’s health because they take care of everything”

A little self esteem issue there methinks.

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The new issue of “Cyber Bullying”:
http://www.wafb.com/global/story.asp?s=2774728&ClientType=Printable

This is something I heard about long ago, but now here’s proof:
http://icwestlothian.icnetwork.co.uk/news/localnews/lothiannews/lothiannews/tm_objectid=15046260&method=full&siteid=92284&headline=goodwill–to-all-men—except-tv-licence-dodgers-name_page.html

The Brits are truly strange, you must have a TV license to have a TV. Whereas, in the U.S. you just need to TV, and they don’t have a goofy mobile spy machine prying into your life. http://www.tvlicensing.co.uk.
The license costs over 150 dollars a year.

Finally, here is the Heritage Foundation’s economic freedom index for 2005:
http://www.heritage.org/research/features/index/countries.cfm

The U.S. has dropped out of the top ten for the first time in the history of the index, but that was because other nations changed, our index remained the same. Incredibly, though you can’t use a TV without a license in the UK, they are ahead of us on the index. Also, we had the lowest income tax of any of the other nations ahead of us (that doesn’t include state taxes) and the lowest percentage of GDP absorbed by government. But, Heritage says this about the U.S:

“The Administration of George W. Bush has continued America’s leadership role in free trade with signed free trade agreements with both Singapore and Chile, approved agreements with Australia and Morocco, pending agreements with Bahrain and Central America, and ongoing negotiations with other countries throughout the world. Government spending, however, expands without constraints. The massive farm subsidies of 2002 were followed by the massive Medicare prescription entitlement of 2003. Increased regulatory laws in the securities field have raised compliance costs in capital markets, forcing some firms simply to buy back their stock and retreat from public markets. Anti-dumping trade barriers are growing, and inflation rose following the steep plunge in the dollar. In short, the United States, while still a vibrant country, is at a crossroads: It will either continue to be a leader in economic freedom or idly watch other countries pass it by. The United States’ overall score is unchanged this year.”

Essential numbers:

Population: 291,049,000
Total area: 9,629,091 sq. km
GDP: $9.5 trillion
GDP growth rate: 2.9%
GDP per capita: $32,517
Major exports: industrial supplies, consumer goods, automotive goods, food and beverages, travel services, financial/insurance services, computer/information services
Exports of goods and services: $1.09 trillion
Major export trading partners: Canada 23.4%, Mexico 13.5%, Japan 7.2%, UK 4.7%, Germany 4.0%, China 3.9%,
Major imports: Crude oil, refined petroleum products, automobiles, consumer goods, industrial raw materials, financial/insurance services
Imports of goods and services: $1.64 trillion
Major import trading partners: Canada 17.8%, China 12.1%, Mexico 11.0%, Japan 9.4%
Foreign direct investment (net): –$133.9 billion

Just for fun, compare with the UK:

Population: 60,270,708
Total area: 244,820 sq. km
GDP: $1.4 trillion
GDP growth rate: 2.2%
GDP per capita: $23,315
Major exports: manufactured goods, oil and other fuels, food, travel services, financial and insurance services, transportation, computer services and information
Exports of goods and services: $445.3 billion
Major export trading partners: US 15.4%, Germany 11.0%, France 10.0%, Netherlands 7.2%, Ireland 6.5%
Major imports: finished manufactures, semi-manufactures, food, oil, financial services, communications
Imports of goods and services: $549.1 billion
Major import trading partners: Germany 14.3%, US 9.7%, France 8.6%, Netherlands 7.0%
Foreign direct investment (net): –$35.4 billion

All things considered, I’ll take the U.S.

If only for the TV.