Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Why Do People Live In Cities?

Why do people live in cities? Why do people live in Cincinnati? Why not outside the city limits? These and many other questions, the new Cincinnati City Council needs to be asking themselves as they make decisions about where they want to spend the financial resources of the city.

Technology has permitted families to move away from the city to the suburbs, and yet because of roads and private transportation they can maintain their attachment to the city for all the benefits a city provides.  There is no Mason, Montgomery or Indian Hill opera, symphony orchestra or art museum! For these and many others attractions, like the professional sports teams, people come back into the city.

Cincinnati's problem for the 21st century is to maintain and hopefully increase the population of the city. The movement of families back into the city limits would greatly enhance the city's ability to serve its citizens and those that come back into the city for the attractions the city has to offer.

For families to return to Cincinnati, the public schools of the City of Cincinnati need to be among the very best public schools in the country.  Parents are not going to place their children in inferior public schools if there is an alternative waiting for them just beyond the city limits. This is the biggest reason, in my opinion, that Cincinnati has lost population over the last 50 years.  Yes, the interstate has provided the ease for the movement of bread winners into and out of the city, but quality public school education is the lynchpin.  You don't have to be an Einstein to know this fact is true.

Now there is a big debate over a new streetcar system.  To look at the streetcar strictly in a dollars and cents proposition is very shortsighted, in my opinion.  The ability for people to travel to the inner city without driving their car all the way into the heart of the city is a real draw, and to ignore that is a big mistake.  The initial streetcar route is not the end product and that should be realized when considering the gains the city will receive from its full implementation.

This city, like many other cities in our country, must attract people back to its city limits in the 21st century.  If Cincinnati can not attract people back into the city limits and grow in population, it will eventually whither and die like the big city to the north.  The choice is in the hands of City Council, and I hope they will think before they make their decisions.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Stability of The Purchasing Power of Our Money

Take two words, monetary policy, go to sleep, and in the morning you will have less purchasing power.  Does it work that fast? No, but over a period of time, say 20, 30, 40 or 50 years, your purchasing power will erode. Few people even care what the words monetary policy means, much less what monetary policy does.  As all of us who carry Federal Reserve Notes, also known as our paper money, in our wallets, you would think that we would care about monetary policy and who makes it.  Monetary Policy in the United States is made by the Federal Reserve Bank Board, with input from bankers and economists.  My problem with this is that there is no input from people living on a fixed income like Social Security or a pension.

Monetary policy today is designed to accelerate economic growth, and that is where I have a problem. I do not think that monetary policy should be responsible for economic growth as it is interpreted by the members of the Federal Reserve Board.  Economic growth should be encouraged by the laws passed by Congress, and not by the manipulation of monetary policy.

Keeping interest rates very low may bode well for those borrowing money, but it does not bode well for those seniors trying to live off of their pension, Social Security and a few certificates of deposit (CDs) paying a fair rate of interest.  When interest rates are held down by Federal Reserve Bank policy so as to encourage faster economic growth through greater borrowing by everyone that knows how to use leverage, there is only one class of people left holding the short straws, and that is those seniors investing in CDs from their bank.  Because CDs are paying so little in our present low interest rate environment, many seniors are being "forced" by circumstances to invest their money in the stock market in search of higher current yields on their money.

I will stop here, and let you who read my blog MONEYTHOUGHTS digest these three paragraphs.  It is important to understand what I have written.  Not because what I write is important, but because what I write explains why 1.) the stock market is up so much, and 2.) why it is important for everyone to take an interest in what is happening with monetary policy.  We are all part of the monetary system we use in the United States, and as such we should all have a say in how monetary policy is formulated.  Monetary policy is too important to be left just to the bankers and a few economists. Perhaps it is a bit radical to insist that we all have some say in how monetary policy is decided. After all we that live on a fixed income are most dependent on the stability of the purchasing power of our money!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Norwegian Freighter by F.D. Zigler

In the summer of 1964, I hitch-hiked to New Orleans and got a job on a Norwegian freighter. I took a number of photographs with my trusty 35mm camera, not as many as I would have liked, but I held on to them and used two of them for these two paintings.  Here are two views looking towards the rear of the ship from two different elevations. I recycled an old wood window to be my frame and after looking at it for about a year unpainted, decided that I would like the paintings better in a gray frame that reminded me of the gray on the ship. That was an interest summer as I went to South America and the Caribbean.

Norwegian Freighter by F. D. Zigler, acrylic on plywood, 2012.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Shutdown and The Jerks That Shut it Down

Shutting down the Federal Government has only drawn these jerks that have shut it down to the point where we can see that they really don't know how much the Federal Government does every day that we don't know about, or just take for granted.

The death benefit that is paid to every family of a person killed on active military duty is just one of many many things our Federal Government does, and it helps military families make their way through a very difficult time.  But, this is not all the Federal Government does for families, the sick and injured, and so many other programs that we don't know anything about help our veterans too.

This shutdown is not about the budget or the deficit.  It is politics at its worst.  It is about making the first black President of the United States appear that he can not do the job.  Because, if the first black president does a successful job for 8 years, then there might be other men and women of color that could do a good job too.  The Republican Party for the most part doesn't appeal to people of color, or for that matter, to a lot of white people either. They are a political party on their way out because the social and intellectual landscape of the United States has changed and is continuing to change rapidly. The Republican Party's refusal to do anything about immigration reform is just one part of their failing to deal with the United States in the 21st century.

Those jerks in Congress that believe that this will not hurt our economy and have no affect on the world's economy are stupid or they just don't care how much they hurt people.  This brings me to a point that some people will disagree.  The Republican Party doesn't care about people.  It is that simple. Their values are the values of selfishness and indifference.  Most people are seeing this now with the Federal Government shutdown, and they will remember this too at the next election.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Diptych: Portraits of The Black and White Obama

Why a White Obama? The White Obama portrait is for those people that say they want their country back, but really mean they want a white man in the White House.  Many years from now, when serious historians will write books about the first black president of the United States, in the back of the book under the Index, and under the letter "R" will be the words racism towards President Obama, the First Lady and the Obama children.  Remember, I prefaced this with the words "serious historians" because no serious historian of American cultural and intellectual history of President Obama's years in the White House can ignore the racism directed towards the president, his wife and his two daughters.  For this reason, as an artist that paints political satire, I painted and constructed the wood frames for these two portraits. Some may disagree with my premise and others might resent that I would paint these two portraits as I did, but they are my interpretation of what I have seen and witnessed as an American for the last 71 years.  Racism is as American as cherry pie.

Diptych: The Black Obama - The White Obama by F. D. Zigler, acrylics on canvas board 16x20 inches, wood frames constructed and painted with gesso and latex eggshell black and white paint, 2013.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Let Us Pray

I listened today to an economist talk about what a default on our US Treasury debts would mean to interest rates here in the United States and around the world.

First, it must be understood what is meant when economists refer to the US dollar as the reserve currency of the world.  People, corporations, institutions and other countries buy US Treasuries as a means of holding cash.  Yes, it is not like dollar bills in your wallet because the US Treasuries that they buy pay an interest rate.

This interest rate is considered by much of the world to be the least likely debt instrument to default. And, because it is considered as such, it carries one of the lowest interest rates for a short term debt instrument, a Treasury Bill.

If the United States defaults on its debt, our US Treasury Bills will no longer be considered the safest short term debt instruments in the world.  As a result, interest rates on Treasury Bills, notes and bonds will go up.

But, that is not all!  The interest rates on everything else will also go up.  Higher interest rates have a way of slowing down the economy, and since US Treasury debt is held by people, corporations, institutions and foreign governments, the economy of the whole world will slow down.

Corporations and other large institutions are constantly looking to invest in bigger and better buildings and plant and equipment, but each project's approval is based on an interest rate assumption for that project.  Many projects at higher interest rates are not feasible to do, so they are put back on the shelf for another time.  This happening around the world means that economic growth is thwarted!

I don't expect people in Congress to understand what I have just written, but I hope the lobbyists that line their pockets with campaign contribution do.  Hopefully, corporate America will explain this to those Republican Congress people that don't understand a fucking thing about economics or for that matter world finance, a world reserve currency or how the economies of the world are so tied together that a default by the United States, the largest economy in the world, will impact the rest of the world too.

Let us pray.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

A Celebration of Life and Art: October 2013

This week is a week of relaxation, to some extent, and celebration of being another year older.  Since my retirement at the end of October, 2005, I have painted and made many constructions related to my artwork.  In 8 years, the pieces have so to speak piled up.  I haven't sold much, but that isn't why I paint and make my wood constructions and frames.  I do it because I like to work with my hands; and, I like to take an idea that I sketch on the back of an envelope, and make it into a 2 or 3 dimensional object. A painting starts with an idea and is transferred to a drawing and then the fun begins.  The drawing then has to be broken down into its parts and constructed.  This is what I enjoy.  Sometimes it is a bit of a puzzle, and at other times my hands and head take me where I want to go.  It is like something in the recesses of my head know what to do and all I have to do is carry out their wishes with my two hands. I am going to post a few pieces from the last eight years, and I hope a few of you who read my blog will enjoy seeing them.  These pieces made from wood and painted in acrylics are a few of my latest pieces.
So along with my Birthday this week, I celebrate my artwork production.

Friday, August 30, 2013

My thinking on Syria: 8/30/2013

I have been around for a few wars.  I was born during the Second World War, collected Korean War cards when I was 8, read about and viewed photos of the war in Vietnam in Paris Match before we American were shown how bloody it was in our own news magazines and stayed up all night watching the first war against Iraq called Desert Storm.

Now we are being told that we have to do something because the regime in Syria has used chemical weapons against its own civilian population, and that we have a moral obligation to do something because chemical weapons are inhuman.  War is inhuman.

My problem is what do we hope to accomplish?  This will not produce a regime change I don't think. Perhaps more innocent civilians will die as a result of our missile strike?  Besides the corporations that make the missiles, who else is going to gain?  What if we do more damage than good?

It is tough to watch photos and videos of dead children.  Assad should go, but what will follow will be any better?

At this point, I guess President Obama thinks he has to do something, but I would like him to reconsider what the downside might be.  Missiles will not bring back those children and adults that died from chemical weapons (poisonous gas), and our actions are going to be criticized if the slightest thing goes wrong.

Personally, I think we should sit this one out.  Perhaps the British have it right this time.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Sunflower 2013

This is my first Sunflower of the summer 2013.  There are a few more coming along, but this one got started on its own early.  Big, beautiful and full of color!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

A New Month, Another Project

The 2 Obama paintings, The Black Obama and The White Obama need specially made frames, and that is my next project.  Each painting measures 20" by 16" and will be fitted into a tabernacle style frame that will be painted especially for that portrait.  When the two frames are finished and hung together just a few inches apart, they will encompass the range I am seeking.  Whether others will feel that I achieved my objective remains to be seen.  We all have are unique sense of humor, and our own sense of political satire.  Some will like what I have put together, and no doubt others will not.  As an artist, I see my job as stirring the pot of paint.

Monday, July 22, 2013

The Black Obama

It has been brought to my attention that my posting of my painting The White Obama, may be inferred that:  a.) I don't like President Obama  b.) I wish President Obama was white, or,  c.) both a. and b.  The correct answer is  d.) I like President Obama and I have painted him in 4 separate painting.  This painting of President Obama was inspired by the TIME magazine Man of the Year cover.  The Black Obama by F. D. Zigler, acrylic on canvas board, 2013.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

The White Obama

The White Obama by F.D. Zigler, acrylic on canvas board, 2013.

The White Obama for people that want their country back, and say that because they really mean they want a white president.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Tabernacle Frame

Mother and Child by F.D. Zigler, wood, glue, nails, acrylic paint and enamel acrylic paint, 2013.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Independence Day- July 4, 1776

4th of July by F.D. Zigler, acrylic on black paper envelope w/ postage stamps.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Tabernacle Frame Update

A little glue, nails and some wood filler and things are taking shape.  I like the way this is coming together.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Progress Report On Tabernacle Frame

Here are 2 photos of the frame at this point. There is still much woodworking yet to do.  I have pieces of wood soaking in water right now.  These pieces will be shaped after they have softened and can be bent without breaking.  This part of the project is not my favorite, but there is no way around it. Wood fibers must be either steamed or soaked, and as I don't care to build a chamber to steam the wood, I let it soak in water until I can bend it.  Working outside on the back porch is nice. I enjoy the warmer weather and the sunlight.  Construction & Design by F. D. Zigler.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Seeing A Few Old Friends In Columbus, Ohio

Thursday evening I got together with a few old friends that I worked with at the Ohio Bureau ofWorkers' Compensation in Columbus, Ohio.  We all worked in the Investment Department and really got along with each other quite well. There are many good stories to tell, but that will have to wait for another time.  I hope we can do this again, and it would be nice to see a few more faces if they can make it.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Progress Report

This piece measures 27" by 22" before the additions.  It is made of 1/2 inch birch plywood and pine. There are several more pieces that needed to be added, but it is coming along.  Still undecided about the color I want to paint the tabernacle frame.  I am thinking about a dark gray.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Flag Day 2013

Here are a few of my paintings of the flag of the United States.

All 3 paintings by F.D. Zigler

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Tabernacle Frame with Round Opening

I have started another woodworking project.  This tabernacle frame has a round opening.  I have decided what color I will paint it, but I am thinking about it.  I am using 1/2 inch birch plywood and pine.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Mother & Child in Black Tabernacle Frame 2013

The final painting is pretty close to this photo and most people would not even recognize any difference, so I am posting this photo until I take one when it is hanging on a wall.  A friend has invited me to hang it in his gallery so I am going to do that.  The piece is made of 1/2" birch plywood and pine, glue, nails, gesso and acrylic paint.  It weighs about 28 pounds and is about 37" in height. I am comfortable with the way the piece turned out.  I have wanted to make a smaller version of a tabernacle frame I made and exhibited in Covington and Chicago in 1992.  That piece was 6 feet by 4 feet and was painted in oil on board.  The wood frame was covered in gold metal leaf.
Mother & Child: An American Icon by F.D. Zigler, oil on board w/gold metal leaf, 1992.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Federal Reserve Bank Monetary Policy Revisited

A few years back, I wrote about our Fed's monetary policy and explained, I thought fairly well, how monetary policy is made totally with a view of, what is good for the banks, and not the consumer of bank services.

This morning I was watching Morning Joe on MSNBC, and I heard one of their stock market commentators say that the stock market is up so high because older people have no other place to put their money because interests rates were paying "squat"! 

This is true. Interest rates on U.S. Treasuries are very low relative to what they have been over the last 25 years.  Interest rates on bank certificates of deposit, known as CDs, also are paying very low rates at the present time.

This has forced people looking for a fair return on their money into the stock market where yields on stocks that pay a quarterly dividend are much higher.  This has made saving money very difficult for seniors in retirement because savings accounts and other fixed income instruments are paying "squat".

Well, at some point, you may be asking what does this have to do with the Fed's monetary policy? The answer is EVERYTHING!!! People in need of income because they are retired must by process of elimination look at the stock market for investment securities that will generate income. And, as a result, this means that millions of Baby Boomers are searching for more income for their retirement. Do I need to draw you a picture?

If the Federal Reserve Bank would consider the plight of seniors in their search for a fair monetary policy for both the banks and for the rest of us who use our monetary system, then perhaps, seniors and others would not have to put nearly all of their money in the stock market.

Meanwhile, the banks are making a killing because they borrow money for next to nothing and make a huge spread by charging high interest rates.

So much for monetary policy being set where it benefits everyone in the system and not just the banks!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Memorial Day Weekend 2013: Spring Grove Cemetery

Graves of Union Army soldiers buried at Spring Grove Cemetery, Cincinnati, Ohio.
Photos by F.D. Zigler, 2013.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Tabernacle Frame Covered In Gesso

A little more gesso and some sanding, and the next big phase should begin! What do you think?

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Tabernacle Frame Progress

The woodworking part is finished (I think).  Now for a few coats of gesso and light sanding and it should be ready to paint.  This work is enjoyable, but it does wear me out.  12 mile Bike ride tonight.

Monday, April 29, 2013

New Woodworking Art Project 2013

A few cuts here and a few cuts there,
A little glue here and a little glue there,
A few little nails here and a few little nails there,
Slowly, ever so slowly, the tabernacle frame takes shape!

F.D. Zigler

Friday, February 8, 2013

If It Be Drones, So Be It

I must admit, I am not cut out for politics.  The latest piece in the news is the debate about the use of drones and whether killing an enemy with a drone strike is the right thing to do.  This next comment goes for both Republican and Democrat administrations: Someone is always second guessing you and your motives, and it has got to be hell to try and do the right thing, protect America and its citizens (American lives) from terrorist attacks and at the same time, make no mistakes in the process.

Personally, I have no problem with using drones to kill enemies of the United States. And, when the technology is perfected, I have no problem with pilotless aircraft taking out enemy targets either.  I am going to give our elected officials the responsibility to use their best judgement in the defense of our country, and hope that their judgement is not corrupted by the greed of the military/industrial complex.

Defending our country is not an easy job, nor is it always going to be crystal clear where the enemy is coming from or who he is, but I am going to give my President the benefit of the doubt when it comes to protecting the American people.  9-11 really happened.  I myself was in Washington, D.C. on that Tuesday morning, and I remember how it changed our lives and the way we must look at defending our country.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Two Postage Stamp Paintings in Progress

Two postage stamp paintings in progress.  These are on canvas board 20 by 16 inches and are in acrylic. The painting behind is from the early 1990s and is on masonite in oil and enamel paint.  I thought it makes an interesting composition.  The easel is another piece of my handiwork as I designed and built it for myself several years ago.  I guess you can say that I hate to buy something so simple as an easel when you can put one together with a few pieces of wood.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Shoes of A Bicyclist

The weather today is warm for January, as the temp is in the 60s.  Yesterday I received in the mail a postcard reminding me that the 7th Annual Ride Cincinnati will be Sunday, June 9, 2013. So, with that reminder and the warm weather, I decided to pump up my tires and take a bike ride over to Spring Grove Cemetery where I usually do my spring workouts. I am happy to report that the collaboration between the bicycle and me continues to work; and, while I am not nearly ready to ride for as long or as hard as I would like, I think by June 9th I will be ready.  I hope to get registered for Ride Cincinnati early this year, and start asking for contributions for breast cancer research to benefit The Barrett Cancer Center.  This will be the 7th year I have ridden in this event and hope to ride the 26 miles again as I have done in past years.  The above photo was taken just before my ride today, and I though it makes an interesting composition.