I hope your calculators aren't too rusty, because it's time to do some basic - and not-so-basic - math. This week, our hospital went money-hunting, and they found three companies eager to help, hawking three different ways to get the money they need for the price they can afford.
While it's easy to get over-excited by terms like "interest rebate" and "stimulus funding" and extremely confused by others like "negative arbitrage" and "liquidity covenants," it's important to wade through the jargon and run the numbers on these deals.
Hearing that the USDA wants to give us a $20 million direct loan and throw their federal weight behind backing the rest sounds golden - especially when you hear the words "40-year term." But, as always, it's the fine print that might stick it to you. It is vital to remember that the USDA loan comes with some price tags, one that says there is a chance, however slim, that the money and the rate may not be there after the building is built. And although having longer to pay down the debt is enticing in this economy, it is a double-edged sword that will cost more at the bottom line.
HUD-guaranteed bonds, the other option on the table, aren't fault-free, either. Any debt will, by definition, come with a price tag. The lending term is almost half that of a USDA loan and the interest rates, once attorney fees, issuance fees, preliminary study fees, trustee fees and a host of other related fees and costs come into play, are not as clear cut and may be higher than what USDA offers.
But in this numbers game, the winner is the one who balances risks against rewards, instead of running from one or towards another. In a market situation where no one can tell what's falling next, longer terms and fractionally lower rates are not quite enough to outweigh a guarantee that the money will actually exist in three years.
By: Dick Hodgetts
By: Fred Johnson
The U.S. has the only missile defense system in the world. Shooting a bullet to hit another bullet in mid-flight is basically what an anti-ICBM missile must do. No warheads are involved because the kinetic energy of a collision at 20,000 miles per hour is enough to reduce an incoming missile to dust. Only the United States has the technology to accomplish this.
Our anti-missile program began over 50 years ago in 1963 with the development of a long-range and short-range anti-missile missile. Russia responded by building a few concrete block houses around Moscow and Leningrad and claimed it could also shoot down incoming ICBMs. In 1969 the U.S. signed the SALT I talks began between Russia and the U.S. to stop the development of anti-ICBM missiles.
This treaty was signed in 1969 and the U.S. stopped work on their anti-missile programs, and Russia tore down their empty concrete blockhouses. President Carter signed the SALT II Treaty in 1979. Jimmy Carter said this about the treaty: “Rejection of this treaty would be a devastating blow to the United States…and a massive destructive blow to world peace.” Shortly after signing the treaty, Russia invaded Afghanistan – so much for negotiating “world peace” with the Russians. President Reagan took a different tact after his election. Instead of trying to negotiate peace with Russia he declared that they were an evil empire and that he was increasing our defense spending by 20 percent.
By: Celia Murrary
This means war. A beautiful Saturday morning while cradling a warm coffee cup, I took a lazy stroll around the house to give all my potted beauties a drink from the hose. Turning on the spigot, I approached my planters on front steps.
Carnage! Where once fertile sweet potato vines and flowers blossomed nothing more than dirt clods and purple stubs remained. Plant parts, bits of pink flower flesh strewn everywhere. The INHUMANITY! Once again, I had fallen victim to that devil-horned, cloven-hoofed, brown-eyed, tick-infested marauding Mongol herd.
I hate Bambi.
What have I become? I hear my mother’s voice, “The Bible says you must never hate.” But the Bible also says the devil prowls to and fro stalking the earth as a lion. I know differently. The devil skips and jumps and prances invading the pure earthly bodies of Bambi and Mama each dark and sinister night.
Late spring held much promise. Like the sea calls to a sailor, the soil of my side yard whimpered to me. With the help of Lofton Taylor, who has been in charge of our yard for decades, I cleared, tilled and raked the land for my garden. All 6x10 feet. I planted peppers from the preschool sale. Tomato shoots from Rose Mary Hughes. Corn grown from seed by my 5-year-old. Squash, watermelon, eggplant and okra. Spent countless hours sweating and weeding. Though apologizing profusely in social situations about dirt under my fingernails, secretly I reveled in my new life mission.
Farmer. The land and I were as one. I smelled of earth and it smelled of me.
We both smelled. So earthy.
Then one morning I awoke to all little green tomatoes gone, squash nibbled to stubs, corn stalks shredded. Visions of frying okra brutally dashed against the white shores of Lake Rutledge.
Remember the part near the end of the film "The Wizard of Oz" where Dorothy finally makes it to the Emerald City?
She, Toto, Scarecrow, Tin Man and Cowardly Lion have finally made their way down the Yellow Brick Road just to get stonewalled by some mysterious, all-knowing, floating head that demands the broomstick of the Wicked Witch of the West in return for granting their wishes.
So, after a near-death experience at the Witch's castle, the group defeats her and gains her broomstick, which they then diligently take back to the Wizard. OK, yeah, he grants their wishes, but that's only after they discover the "great and powerful Oz" to be nothing more than a mere special effects guru who "grants their wishes" through what sounds like some kind of simple psychobabble.
Now we're not saying Dorothy, or the Wizard for that matter, was right. Or wrong. We're just saying that, had she asked some questions of that random, floating head, it might've saved her some trouble.
And we at the Morgan County Citizen feel we can relate to Dorothy.
It's been made clear to us (through Letters to the Editor, phone calls, even conversation on the street) that you, readers, want to know more.
We get that. We are working to ask the tough questions, and get the truth from those who represent us. That's our job.
Asking questions earlier may have gotten us some better answers. And sooner. Prior to our journey to the Emerald City.
But we're there now. We've arrived and met the Wizard, and we can't change that.
What we CAN do is demand transparency.
You, as county taxpayers, and we, as the local newspaper, deserve to know what's going on behind the curtain: how this county is being operated, and who is doing the operating.
In the end, though, this isn't about the giant, floating head. Or about the Wizard.