Future Visions of the Auto Industry and Automotive Advertising Based on What Was and What Is

Auto industry social networks all have different rules and protocols to create their unique identities in the auto industry and the inter-dependent automotive advertising industry. While there are differences in format, content and contributors they share the common goal to educate their community members by sharing best practices and insights with the concept that a rising tide floats all boats. To provide clarity and share my vision of the future of the retail auto industry and automotive advertising it must be framed it in the context of our changing geo-political and economic environment. Once the foundation of today is built on the broad picture of our world economy and politic, then the role of the Internet and related technologies can be applied to the one constant that we can all depend on — human nature — to help define tomorrow as I see it.

Any competitive business model must be built to accommodate tomorrow as well as today. Today is obvious. Sales volume, profit margins and inventory are down across all brands. Consumer confidence is falling as unemployment is rising even in the face of the expected temporary increase when the million plus census workers and various government employees — such as the sixteen thousand IRS agents to police our new health care system — are artificially added to the equation. Wholesale and retail credit lines are restricted by both natural business cycles and government intervention. Our economy is directly linked to the world economy along both monetary and political lines and the United States as well as our European trading partners are faced with excessive debt and unstable monetary systems. Our monetization of our debt — basically the fact that we loaned ourselves the money we needed to fund our growing debt by printing more money, since no one else would lend it to us — has insured the inevitable inflation of our dollar or some similar correction to our monetary system. This anticipated correction is already supported when observing the situation maturing in Greece, Portugal, Spain and other European Countries tied to the Euro and the International Monetary Fund, (IMF). No one has a crystal ball, so the only way to plan for tomorrow is to recap today’s critical issues that didn’t exist yesterday. It is these changes in — what was — vs. — what is — that will likely define — what will be and the actions that auto dealers and automotive advertising agencies must take to remain profitable and competitive in unchartered waters.

The current administration was voted in on a platform of hope and change with the expectation that the promised transformation of America would take place within the confines of our constitution and in consideration of our established belief in a free marketplace. The redistribution of wealth was understood by most to reflect the giving nature of the American people as a moral and sharing society. Unfortunately, the transformation began in ways that could not have been imagined by the majority that voted for it with an agenda that is only now coming to light. The inherited financial burdens on our banking system that justified the need for change were matured across Republican and Democratic party lines — as evidenced by the contributions of Fannie May and Freddie Mac to our mortgage crisis and the preferred treatment enjoyed by the unions, Goldman Sachs, AIG and other entities on Wall Street supported by the progressive political movement that is represented within both parties.

By way of disclaimer, I recognize that approximately 30% of our population believes in the collective — We the people — and the associated movement for the — workers of the world to unite — vs. the framers of the constitution that defined it as the individual — We The People — and the rights of the individual as a contributing member of the whole. That said, as the President has clearly stated, elections have consequences and I will attempt to limit my comments and future visions to only those actions that have or will have a direct impact on the auto industry and the automotive advertising agencies that are engaged to serve it.

The empowerment of the unions in the formation of Government Motors is already impacting the marketplace even while it is being challenged in the courts. The mandated consolidation of the retail distribution channels for General Motors and Chrysler preserved the interest of the unions over the guaranteed bond holders and independent dealers contrary to established rules of law. This precedence diluted expectations of both investors and corporations to rely on binding contracts and individual rights in favor of the collective we that our evolving society is expected to serve. Recent adjustments to the language in a variety of Federal powers have impacted previously accepted State and individual rights which must also be considered when projecting the future of the auto industry and automotive advertising — if not our country as a whole.

For example, the change in the definition of eminent domain from taking personal property — for public use — to the new definition — for public good — has already resulted in private and commercial property being taken at distressed market values and given to other individuals that promised a higher tax base to the governing authority based on their position that the additional tax revenue was for the public good. Similarly, the ownership of water rights in the United States has been changed from the previous Federal ownership of all — navigable waterways — to include — all waterways — such as ponds, surface streams and basically any water that the government determines can be used for the public good. The potential impact on the farming industry and our food supplies evidence a shift in government control of society that must be considered when projecting the future of any industry — including our beloved auto industry.

Given the government takeover of the banking industry, General Motors, Chrysler, Health Care and Student Loans that are now part of our history, the point becomes self evident. These single word changes and government takeover of entire industries for the public good dilute individual and corporate rights in favor of the rights of the collective. This is a basic step in the process of redistributing the wealth in accordance with Socialistic and Marxist principles. I am not judging the validity of any of these differing political philosophies since it would risk my ability to remain unbiased in my evaluation of present and pending opportunities in the auto industry. My intent is not to defend our previous constitutional republic over the shift to a Socialistic or Marxist democratic society, but rather to apply them when preparing a business model moving forward for my auto dealer / vendor clients and affiliated automotive advertising agencies.

For example, the recess appointment of Craig Becker as member of the five seat body of the National Labor Relations Board, (NLRB), suggests the intent of the administration to resume its push for the Card Check Regulation that is designed to facilitate unionizing all businesses in the United States. Recess appointments are an accepted practice used by previous administrations to bypass the Congress and the Senate to fill cabinet positions with individuals that are often blocked by partisan agendas. However, Mr. Becker was challenged in a bi-partisan manner based on his role as a senior attorney for the Unions including the CIO and the Service Employees International Union, (S.E.I.U), just before his appointment. The NLRB decides cases involving workers’ rights which directly impacts larger issues between Democrats and their labor allies vs. stated Republican party interests and those of the corporate world When coupled with the intent of Card Check regulation to eliminate the right of workers to a private vote to determine if a business can be unionized, the likelihood that retail auto dealerships will be forced to become union shops becomes a real possibility. The regulation also allows the government to intervene in the event that an employer challenges a union take over with a Federal administrator enforcing the union proposals as to wage and other terms and conditions of employment pending a final determination. Based on reduced sales volume, profit margins and increased costs of doing business the inevitability of these privately held dealerships collapsing under the financial weight of union demands is painfully obvious to any auto dealer that understands his cost of sales line items and their impact on his shrinking bottom line.

Similarly, the administration’s success in manipulating the processes in the Congress to pass its version of Health Care reform will increase expenses to auto dealers regarding insurance costs for their employees either in the form of forced coverage or penalties which must now be factored into projected operational expenses. These expenses may pale in comparison to other increases in the cost of doing business if the administrations’ next stated goal to enforce Cap and Trade regulations are passed. This legislation promises to raise the cost of electricity and other costs of goods in America on many energy related fronts.

For those not familiar with Cap and Trade regulations, think of it as a tax on carbon emissions that would be collected by yet another government controlled body to pay restitution to third world countries who have been breathing our pollution and suffering from its impact on global warming. Of course the same scientists that collected the evidence that global warming exists which supported this legislation have since reversed their position while confessing that they manipulated the data. However, that revelation has not slowed the administrations’ desire to move forward. In fact, they have empowered the Environment Protection Agency, (E.P.A.), to intercede and impose carbon taxes by claiming that carbon is a poisonous gas which they are authorized to restrict. Either way, the taxes will be imposed on American industry while other industrialized countries have already reversed their positions on imposing these same fees. This inequity in manufacturing costs will further reduce the ability for American manufacturers to compete in the world economy and will likely force the exit of many carbon producing industries to countries that do not impose these additional costs while taking their jobs with them.

Itemizing — what is — vs. — what was — has little value other than to cause panic when people realize that there is little that they can do to reverse the changes that they voted in. However, if properly framed in a problem solution format it can provide an opportunity for those that accept — what is, forget — what was, and work towards — what can be. Now comes the good news!

The solution to surviving the promised redistribution of wealth from the perspective of auto dealers and automotive advertising agencies lies in their use of technology to reduce and even eliminate certain fixed and semi-variable expenses. Brick and mortar facilities are often financed with mortgage terms and/or rent factors that were based on now dated real estate values and anticipated sales volume and profit margins to carry the debt service. The commercial real estate bubble of over one trillion dollars coming due over the next eighteen months with no current resource of funds to replace maturing commercial mortgages promise to exasperate already reduced equity positions for auto dealers. The related unsustainable debt service demands a change in the ways that vehicles are sold in the United States; can you say Internet!

Similarly, current staffing needs are often related to processes that are labor intensive. The associated human resource expense and exposure is based on a business model that is antiquated in the face of potential union intervention and government controls; can you say Technology!

Tax consequences resulting from LIFO credits that impacted auto dealerships who could not maintain inventory levels projected in their annual computations due to issues beyond their control are eliminating annual profits. As a direct result of all of these cumulative issues, even captive lenders are balking on maintaining floor plan credit lines or real estate mortgages. Minimum working capital requirements for auto dealers faced with reduced sales, profits and equity to present as collateral for much needed financing has severely limited dealer options to acquire funds to maintain operations.

As already hinted, the solution lies in shifting the focus form brick and mortar facilities to new online virtual showrooms and other Internet based applications that provide more efficient selling processes. Of course real world facilities for sales and service are still part of the projected solution as are the people that will be required to staff them. All processes start and end with people and human nature has and will survive on the Internet. However, the allocation of these resources and the associated expenses must be reduced in the face of the changes already in place as well as those being contemplated to accommodate our new role in a world economy.

Today’s car sales person must be educated to use new technologies and Internet based selling systems much like previous generations needed to be trained with the skills of a mechanized society versus an agricultural one. Computers are already an integral part of our culture so the transition shouldn’t be as hard as some may perceive. Similarly, large central distribution channels that used to provide efficiencies for manufacturing and retail outlets have been replaced by more cost effective online linked resources across the World Wide Web that reduce fixed and semi-variable expenses in a shared manner that didn’t exist before the Internet Super Highway.

Consumers have already been empowered by the Internet to bypass the auto dealer in both the real and the virtual world as the source for the information that they need to purchase a vehicle. Seeking the path of least resistance to satisfy a need is an established element in human nature. An auto dealers ability to accommodate their customers preference to be in charge of their vehicle purchase will be the key to their survival now and in the future. Online customer interaction platforms already allow a dealer to accommodate a two way video communication with real time interaction with the online shopper/buyer sourced from data on the auto dealer’s DMS and linked to their CRM. The transparency of this negotiation process allows the dealer to crash through the glass wall of the Internet with the ability to push and pull the same material that they can at their dealership. The result is the opportunity to accommodate an online transaction with the inevitable ability to reduce staff and facility needs in the real world along with the associated expenses and increased profits.

Social networking is another technology based solution that capitalizes on human nature which promises to change the face of the auto industry and the resources available to automotive advertising agencies to help their auto dealers sell more for less in the future. Consumer centric inventory based marketing platforms fueled by social networking communities that provide word of mouth advertising to virally extend the auto dealer’s branding and marketing messages represent the next generation of applied social media. C2C marketing messaging to social networking communities from the inside out vs. the now dated attempts to market to online communities with B2C messages from the outside in builds on established protocols in social media. Next generation platforms promise to monetize social media for automotive advertising agencies with integrated Ask-A-Friend / Tell-A-Friend features that allow online shoppers to solicit opinions from friends and family. Customer driven posts on their Face Book page drags the dealership and their vehicle into the conversation with the obvious advantage of the increased exposure and the associated viral coefficient to extend their message and online footprint for potential customers linked to the initial online shopper. Google agrees as evidenced by their weighted consideration of real time social media which quantifies the R.O.I. for the dealer with improved S.E.O. for the sourcing dealer’s expanding virtual showroom.

Other technology based solutions that improve online marketing processes converts the pictures on an auto dealer’s web site to professional quality videos with human voice placed on the auto dealer’s site, all third party marketing sites and even the search engines through a dedicated API with You Tube — further evidence the ability of auto dealers to expand beyond the limitations of their brick and mortar facilities and in-house support staff. Extended social networking platforms which allow an auto dealer to empower their sales staff to develop their own websites to market to their spheres of influence with management controls to moderate content and monitor use to prevent employee abuse exist today with the promise to be more widely used tomorrow to build the vision of what will be in the face of a challenging economy.

To extend my vision for the auto industry beyond the technologies that exist today requires a similar understanding that expenses and staff need to be consolidated beyond current expectations. Limited resources for consumers to purchase, finance and/or lease their vehicles won’t eliminate their need for transportation. Future financial instruments that are a hybrid of a lease and a rental agreement could allow consumers access to a pool of vehicles in a convenient central location where their Drivers License could act as a key and a charge card to apply charges against pre-paid transportation credits deducted by their employers and controlled by the government to track personal activities and location along with socially accepted consumption of our limited resources. I recognize that the big brother flavor of that vision may seem foreign in the context of what was and is, but we are talking about what will be based on the new collective society that our country has moved towards.

As for the role of the OEM and the auto dealer in the future, it would be reasonable to accept that the government’s existing control of the auto and banking industry will extend into the energy industry which will set the stage for the government determining which vehicles could be manufactured and/or imported and placed into the transportation pools with the locations determined by public transportation hubs that link to local distribution centers. The government currently owns 51 % of all real estate in the country through their mortgage interests in Fannie May and Freddie Mack and the pending commercial real estate bubble promises to shift a great deal more to public control. In addition. the government has recently changed the funding available to both organizations to be considered unlimited with the full faith and backing of the United States Treasury. That action coupled with the previously stated changes in eminent domain and the fact that millions of acres of resource rich land was recently acquired by the government to build additional — national monuments — suggests that land will be made available as needed to accomplish this community transportation system for the public good. Of course government employees will be needed to manage and staff these transportation hubs which would likely represent the auto dealer of the future.

Simply put, my future visions of the auto industry and automotive advertising is built on the past and the present with a recognition of what will be if we continue on the path that we have already chosen. I assume the constant of human nature and the role of technology in our evolution to date with the expectation that neither will change. Of course, there are consequences to elections so I suppose that I should update my projections after November, 2010 and the presidential election in 2012. In any case, the movement from the real to the virtual world has already started and will surely continue so that part of the vision should remain clear.

Cooperators Insurance – One Of The Canadian Leading Insurance Companies

Canada is the second largest country in the world closely resembling today its neighbor United States with its affluent, high-tech industrial society, market oriented economy, pattern of production, and high living standards. Since 1989 the trade and economic integration of Canada with the United States have strongly increased after approving the U.S. – Canada Free Trade Agreement and 1994 North America Free Trade agreements. Since then Canada enjoys stable economic development due to its great natural resources, skilled labor-force, and modern capital plants. The Canadian insurance industry is a major part of the social and economic activity of Canada.

The Canadian insurance market is represented by about 230 activity competing private property and casualty insurers, along with 27 providers of sickness, life and accident. The compulsory auto insurance is provided exclusively by government owned auto insurers in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and British Columbia. The bodily injury part of automobile insurance in Quebec is also provided by government-owned insurers.

Automobile insurance is the largest single class of general insurance in Canada. Total premiums for auto insurance exceed all other classes combined, next ranks property insurance, followed by liability insurance.

The federal or provincial governments supervise general insurance companies operating in Canada. More then 100.000 people are employed by private property and casualty insurers in Canada, including independent brokers, actuaries and adjusters. Many others get income from the payment of insurance claims, such as car repair, construction, law, medicine and accounting.

As example of successful, nation-wide insurance company in Canada let us note The Co-operators Group Ltd created in 1975 after the agreement of co-ordination between the Co-operative Insurance Services (CIS) and Co-operators Insurance Association (CIA) companies resulting in the creation of new holding company.

The prime mission of the new company was to maintain and develop user controlled institutions operating on the co-operative principles with the aim to provide insurance, finance and other services. Actually The Co-operators Group was carrying out a management and service organization assisting The Group’s companies in their management allowing them the advice, tools and mechanisms to succeed. Among The Group’s companies let us note, first of all, Co-operators Life Insurance Company created in 1982 as a single national life company for the Co-operators after the amalgamation of Co-operative Life Insurance Company and Co-operators Life Insurance Association both belonging to The Co-operators Group.

How Bankruptcy Works by State

Numbers of local consumers newly uncomfortable with their accumulated debt loads are beginning to worry over the economic problems affecting Colorado and the nation as a whole. These consumers tend to flock toward bankruptcy attorneys to see whether or not Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy protection would better their situation, and, after the changes to the bankruptcy code following the 2005 legislation, whether or not they would even qualify for Chapter 7 debt elimination bankruptcy in their state of residence. While virtually all the citizens of Coloradan that we have spoken with maintain some knowledge of bankruptcy processes – after all, growing up in the United States of America, even children recognize that bankruptcy is meant to offer a fresh start to debtors who have gotten in over their head with bills they’re unable to pay – most ordinary consumers are unaware of the actual specifics regarding bankruptcy declaration and eventual discharge.

While we can’t pretend that the totality of knowledge floating about the potential repercussions and intrinsic loopholes of bankruptcy should be able to be glossed over in an article such as this, there is information every Coloradan debtor should be aware of before taking another step. It seems, from our correspondence, that almost no Coloradan not already working in the financial services industry has more than a cursory understanding of how their local statutes will protect their assets in the event that they do decide to go through with bankruptcy declaration. For instance, every state holds personal exemptions that borrowers can choose to invoke rather than taking advantage of the (generally far harsher) federal exemptions, and these may change greatly depending on the borrowers’ location around the country. Any consumer seriously interested in bankruptcy should first do their own research on how bankruptcy (and, especially, bankruptcy in Colorado) could help their own financial scenario before paying the ever more expensive costs that comes along from even a consultation with experienced bankruptcy attorney firms. These lawyers charge by the hour, after all, and there is no reason to ask questions that could be easily answered for free should the borrowers have sufficient interest.

Once again, virtually everyone your authors have spoken with in Colorado knows the most basic information about bankruptcy protection – consumers with sufficient debt balances (provided they’re the right sort of unsecured loans) will be considered for a Chapter 7 debt elimination program (provided they have not earned too much money in the preceding years) that could liquidate their credit card bills and similar burdens under the full protection of federal and Colorado state law. The bankruptcy process was originally legislated to offer a new hope for borrowers that have bitten off more than they could chew. To a large degree, for debtors sufficiently desperate and who have suffered genuine calamities necessitating governmental assistance, this can still be true, but, sadly, only a minority of people living in Colorado would actually qualify under current conditions. Fortunately, even as the official protections continue to dissipate, a number of new debt relief and debt management companies have come into existence which attempt to help debtors in Colorado and across the United States erase their more problematic high interest loans and learn proper household budgets and correct spending behaviors to preclude a return to similar situations. Since the discrepancies between debt consolidation and debt settlement and Consumer Credit Counseling are significant and each solution may be different for different sorts of Coloradan families, it should certainly be a priority for every borrower to learn all that they can about these debt maneuvers prior to helplessly concluding that bankruptcy would be the only solution available.

To be sure, however difficult it may now be for Colorado borrowers to avail themselves of bankruptcy protection, it is nonetheless a federally sanctioned legal right to at least file a petition declaring your intentions, and the very act of bankruptcy declaration prevents your accounts from debtor harassment or attempts at collection. Once any borrower files for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy protection in the state of Colorado, the various lenders – and whichever bill collectors the lenders may have been working with – are legally required to end all forms of communication. Unless the lenders can prove that they will lose money by waiting for the trustee chosen by the Colorado courts to render a judgment on the borrowers eligibility for bankruptcy through depreciation of collateral or other means (this rarely happen), the filer should at the least be granted a sudden peace of mind just after declaration. This does not, of course, guarantee the Coloradan borrower shall qualify for bankruptcy nor that the Chapter 7 debt elimination proceedings would be advantageous once all the drawbacks were taken into consideration. Like virtually all elements of consumer finance, no strategies should be entered into blindly or chosen without time for reflection and sufficient amounts of research and self education that would allow all due deliberation. In this article, we would primarily like to go over the reasons each Colorado borrower may invoke when first thinking about bankruptcy, the various processes and statutes borrowers should be aware of before filing (as well as those alterations and exemptions specific to Colorado), and the other debt relief techniques that have become popular in recent years.

When deciding on the necessity of bankruptcy, there are a few different aspects each Coloradan should consider fully before making a final decision – or, again, even spending dollar one on a discussion with the bankruptcy lawyer they would consider using. If the interest rates on any given loan are sufficiently high so that the borrowers cannot satisfy much more than the minimum payments each month, Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 protection should certainly have to be thought of as an option. In the same way – this almost always goes alongside the previous problem, as a matter of fact – borrowers whose collected unsecured debts have amassed to a degree that they would be virtually impossible to repay over the near future may genuinely need look into bankruptcy or any other debt solution available in Colorado. Further, as you should imagine, the regular threatening phone calls and mailings from lenders or collection agents working on their behalf should be a strong warning signal that something has to be done. Remember, as soon as you start working with a debt management firm or file a bankruptcy petition, Colorado state law guarantees that all collector harassment shall immediately cease. In the event that secured lenders have begun the proceedings to enact foreclosure of personal residences or the repossession of automobiles (or, even, the much less common but still effective civil court summons for potential forfeiture of property), you’ll have little choice other than to employ an attorney or debt professional to aid you with your financial burdens.

Essentially, Colorado borrowers must sit down with their families and struggle through the question of whether or not they can justifiably expect to pay back their worst bills (those debts either featuring high interest rates or adjustable interest rates bound to escalate plus loans which demand balloon payments or risk default) in a reasonable amount of time. What do your debts look like compared to the family financial situation of one year ago? Have they become progressively worse? Clearly, demonstrable headway that has been made in paying loans down should be seen as a sign that successive attempts at personal debt management may be enough to eliminate the majority of your problems while, in the same way, ever increasing debts are a reason to investigate bankruptcy or seek out professional assistance from your area of Colorado. Do you have any reason to believe that your income will greatly increase over the short term? Have you considered the overall financial free fall otherwise seen by most aspects of the Coloradan economy and the status of the American economy as a whole? If your motivation for believing the resolution of all debts shall come from some preyed upon inheritance or similar windfall, we strenuously counsel suspicion and a clear headed maintenance of resolve. You have no idea how many Colorado citizens we have corresponded with who let their debts fester while vainly waiting on a miracle only to end up declaring bankruptcy after their credit rating had been unnecessarily ruined (even worse than if they had gone bankrupt in the first place) and family morale irreparably harmed.

It’s easy enough to recognize your problems when you have bill collectors breathing down your neck and even the minimum payments seem beyond hope of remuneration. Once consumers realize that they can’t depend on their own incomes to better their own situation – no matter the attempts at controlling spending and hewing to a budget – it’s a simple step toward bankruptcy. However, for those Colorado borrowers who have not yet reached rock bottom, who still think they may be able to climb out of debt burdens on their own, it may be surprisingly difficult for consumers untutored in the complexities of finance to understand just how potentially dire their debt circumstances may be. Any Coloradan resident with unsecured debt obligations in the amount of ten thousand dollars or greater needs to give serious thought to employ some debt solution program, but, still and all, this is still not necessarily the time for bankruptcy. For this reason, your authors advise using one of the debt calculators online to attempt some more accurate estimation of your payment time lines and how much you would end up paying in compound interest over the duration of your various debts. Even then, if you still have trouble with the math (and credit card companies have little reason to simplify this process), you may wish to talk with one of the debt management or debt settlement companies that offer free consultations to see what they would suggest.

Once again, in many situations, these debt relief firms are likely to say that utilizing the bankruptcy protection of federal and Colorado law would be the most beneficial alternative. Successfully undertaken, Chapter 7 bankruptcies could liquidate all applicable revolving debts – credit card accounts primary among them – and your authors understand how very attractive that scenario must seem. Discharged obligations are the cherry on the cake of bankruptcy protection, but there are other benefits above and beyond the potential of dissolution of legal debts much as that aspect garners the headlines. In Colorado, as we have mentioned, merely filing the initial documents for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy declaration will force all creditors to halt their attempts toward debt collection even if court actions had already been begun to garnish wages or repossess vehicles. Indeed, even those assets recently reclaimed by the collection agency will be (temporarily, depending on the Colorado trustee ruling) returned by the lender following a bankruptcy petition. In the same way, utilities that had been turned off because of faulty payments will be immediately restored, and foreclosure proceedings for residences will be suspended for the time being. For borrowers who believe their mortgage company or other lenders acted in poor faith or had even committed out and out fraud but were unaware of how to alert authorities or afford proper lawyers, this time and avenue toward the courts should alone be worth the bankruptcy proceedings. It’s especially difficult to fight multinational corporations when your power has been shut off, and the Colorado justice system will be allowed additional time to study and consider any borrower claims.

At the same point, much as Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection can do grand things for the lucky Colorado consumer, it’s certainly not the savior to every borrower. Even if you are accepted into the program, you will find that dollar one of many sorts of debts – for some individuals and families, perhaps even the majority of your debts – will not be affected in any way. Secured debts such as home mortgages and car loans, presuming you wish to maintain the possessions that these debts are attached to, will be essentially left alone although the consumers will be asked to reaffirm these obligations with the original lenders. Student loans, for these purposes, will be considered another sort of secured debt since legislation pushed through congress in the late 1980s ever after disallowed the discharge of all education loans in Colorado and throughout the country. Furthermore, borrowers should not expect any funds that are owed for familial debts like alimony or child support to be done away with, and, for that matter, all debts handed down by the government or courts (from penalties to taxes resulting from criminal misdeeds) of America or Colorado are similarly rendered invulnerable. As another element to consider, should the debts have been co-signed, the other party may be held liable for the entirety of the obligation. Considering the limited debt liquidation available even from successful Chapter 7 bankruptcies, one can’t presume the program shall best aid each consumer problem.

More to the point, there is also no guarantee that Chapter 7 protection will even be made available to every Colorado borrower that genuinely seeks an elimination of their burdens. Once a petition is filed for Chapter 7 debt liquidation, the court decides on whether or not the potential for unsecured loan discharge will be deserved. Should the Colorado court trustee decide otherwise, the borrower will be deemed eligible for Chapter 13 bankruptcy debt adjustment program which – while still forcing a temporary stay of collection that may be of sufficient help for truly needy consumers – demands a monthly payment to the trustees which the courts shall then distribute among the assembled lenders. Unlike the Chapter 7 program, even credit card bills will be largely satisfied by the original borrower under Chapter 13 protection, and the courts shall determine a budget (alongside the budgetary guidelines predetermined by the Internal Revenue Service according to their, shall we say, somewhat fantastical expectations about Colorado living expenses) that the household shall have to survive under for the sixty month period of repayment. In this way, aside from the temporary end to bill collector harassment, Chapter 13 will be not much more effective than any personal attempt at debt relief, but the programs legal restrictions could prove far more damaging should the court unfairly decrease your actual expenses or should your household earnings falter during the time of repayment.

There are other forms of bankruptcies, the different Chapter applicable under Colorado law range from those dealing with family farms to actual municipalities, but virtually every borrower shall only have to concern themselves with Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 protections. Really, since the Chapter 13 budgetary guidelines are so strict and the benefits so small, consumers in Colorado should only knowingly enter Chapter 13 when they have a tax obligations that they’re otherwise unable to resolve or secured (mortgage, auto loan, investment) loans that are in jeopardy of default but which they believe they should be able to repay given reaffirmed terms. As happens, most every borrower that goes into Chapter 13 protections only does so because the Colorado trustee – following the directives of the 2005 congressional alteration of the US bankruptcy code – finds the individual or couple declaring bankruptcy earns too much money. The recent code changes examine each bankruptcy petition in terms of the filers gross income as compared to the median income of their state of residence. For consumers filing in Colorado, this means that a single borrower must have less than forty two thousand in earnings according to recent census information. A Colorado household with two members would have to earn less than sixty thousand, three members would need less than sixty four thousand, four members would need less than seventy five thousand and so on. Understand, beyond simple tax records of earnings, that the formal stipulation does not allow the Colorado trustee to look at the filers’ debts but only their incomes, and borrowers who petition for bankruptcy without properly checking their figures against the median income of Colorado residents could be in for five desperate years.

The legislation of 2005 did more than simply make it more difficult to enter Chapter 7 debt elimination programs, of course. There is so much misinformation swirling around the recent changes that many of the Coloradan citizens we have spoken to are falsely convinced that bankruptcy protection which would liquidate credit card bills no longer even exists. As we have written, presuming borrowers pass the income regulations, Chapter 7 protection could be a salvation for the right filer, but, still and all, further hurdles have been erected. The documentation requested from all debtors upon finishing their petitions – from expense receipts to half a years worth of income evidence – has become far more challenging for ordinary citizens who have little time to go tracking down paperwork. Also, borrowers will be forced to take a credit counseling course before their bankruptcy will first be considered and, again, before their bankruptcy will be discharged. Not only will the interested consumers have to pay the not inconsiderable costs from their own pockets, they may have to travel some ways from their area of Colorado just to find a training course certified by the federal government. For many debtors, especially those who most need the assistance of bankruptcy protection, the time required by these various new obligations and the initial costs involved are more than they could easily bear. Frankly, once the charges for the courses are put together with the governmental fees and the truly significant funds demanded by the attorneys – more than ever, after the paperwork grew exponentially more difficult following code alterations, attorneys experienced in Colorado bankruptcy law are needed to ensure not only that borrowers find the best representation but also that they shield themselves from fraud charges following documents mishandled from laziness or neglect – personal bankruptcy could be out of reach just because consumers needed the protection too much.

There is still more elements to be considered for any Colorado borrower considering bankruptcy. Either form of debt protection thoroughly harms credit ratings and F.I.C.O scores for years afterwards, up to a decade in the worst possible case, and filers should expect interest rates approaching twenty percent for vehicle loans or whatever other credit accounts they could land. Even more troubling, Chapter 7 bankruptcies, even presuming the trustee should agree that the case should go forward (and presuming the debtor could afford to declare bankruptcy in the first place), essentially guarantees that the courts are now in charge of the filers personal possessions. As long as debt elimination bankruptcy has existed in the United States, the assets of those borrowers accepted into what became known as the Chapter 7 bankruptcy were subject to forfeiture by the courts and eventual auction with the funds to be handed over the lenders whose burdens would be defaulted upon. However, previously, the courts only looked at the potential resale value of the household items when deciding what and what was not an asset while, currently, borrowers must now worry about their lives possessions being prized as according to their replacement value which renders most everything up for grabs.

Colorado borrowers declaring Chapter 7 are considerably more fortunate than their fellow citizens in this matter. Under Colorado state exemptions – as opposed to federal ones – residents filing for bankruptcy may vouchsafe household furnishings up to three thousand dollars, tools of trade up to twenty thousand, and two thousand dollars worth of art, music, collectibles, or hobby equipment. Compared to the national exemptions, the Colorado bankruptcy statutes should be seen as exceedingly generous. Furthermore, under the Colorado homestead exemption, residents filing for bankruptcy may keep their homes provided there is not more than sixty thousand dollars of equity as would be proven by recent appraisal (which should not be much of a problem given the current real estate market slowdown), and they’re also able to keep their automobiles as long as there is not more than five thousand dollars of equity from blue book pricing (which, for most any vehicle, should not be an issue at all). Furthermore, aside from the homestead, all of these Colorado exemptions would be doubled for married couples filing jointly. Also, though this is true for most of the nation, retirement plans (social security benefits, I.R.A, and most any pension) won’t be touched as well as most forms of public assistance including unemployment compensation and veterans benefits no matter how large the eventual funds may be.

Even though debtors filing for bankruptcy protection in Colorado are demonstrably better off than their counterparts throughout America, any consumers who remain curious about the option should keep in mind how quickly – regardless of the exemptions Colorado grants – the values of household possessions could grow depending upon the wrong trustee at the wrong time. Again, depending upon circumstances, Chapter 7 or, even, Chapter 13 bankruptcy declaration could be the right choice for a certain sort of Colorado borrower, but other alternatives should not be ignored. Admittedly, the depressed property values in Colorado, particularly the Denver and Colorado Springs areas, should effectively preclude mortgage debt consolidation for any borrower that wants to keep their family residence. Also, the Consumer Credit Counseling approach has recently come into question after the income profile of most consumer credit counseling companies showed that they accepted as much if not more from the credit card companies they were supposedly fighting against as they did from their debtor clients. When speaking with Coloradan borrowers that managed to liquidate their accumulated burdens without braving the potential household destruction of bankruptcy protection, the industry that comes up time and again as a success story has been debt settlement.

After employing a certified and experienced debt settlement negotiator to use the very threat of Chapter 7 debt elimination against the lenders, these counselors regularly induce representatives of the credit card companies to cut the accounts owed by as much as fifty percent with minimal effects toward the borrowers’ credit ratings. Nothing comes for free, of course, and the debt settlement companies shall still insist upon an eventual repayment of the lingering unsecured balances in less than five years. Obviously, the debt settlement firms also have little assistance to offer with those loans attached to neither collateral nor any governmental protections. Nevertheless, considering the minimal upfront costs and the limited damage done to credit reports and F.I.C.O scores from a successful debt settlement negotiation (as well as the long list of satisfied Colorado debt settlement clients we have corresponded with over the past year), your authors would be remiss if we did not urge every potential filer for bankruptcy protection to at least have a chat with a local debt settlement professional. Even if your area of Colorado doesn’t have a debt settlement specialist easily obtainable in person, there is any number of relevant professionals available from internet sites throughout the web. So much of financial analysis ends up being conducted remotely, in any event, and, as long as the Coloradan client researches the online firm they wish to talk with, there should not be any more fear to web sites than from unfamiliar store fronts. It’s still likely, even probable, that bankruptcy protection will be the best possibility for you and your family, but, as long as debt settlement continues to thrive in Colorado, there is no reason not to explore other solutions.

Ascending New Hampshire’s Mount Washington

1. Mount Washington:

If the White Mountains wore a crown, it would look like Mount Washington, the highest peak in New Hampshire, New England, and the northeast, cresting at 6,288 feet. Yet, the greater the obstacle, the greater seems to be its attraction, and it is this philosophy which has served as its magnet for hikers, skiers, and technology-tamers-that is, those who sought to surmount it by road and rail-all in the conquering spirit of “reaching the top.”

Originally designated “Agiochooki”-the Indian word for “home of the Great Spirit,” “the place of the spirit of the forest,” and “the place of the storm spirit”-it was seen as the exalted domain of just such a deity, “Gitche Manitos,” and any attempted ascent was therefore considered sacrilegious. Non-Native Americans, however, did not think so and did not hesitate to try.

Its obstacles were not to be underestimated. Surrounded by 5,372-foot Mount Monroe, 5,716-foot Mount Jefferson, and 5,533-foot Mount Clay, Mount Washington itself, a melange of metaphoric rock and characterized by ancient alpine glacier-carved ravines, lies at the center of three storm tracks in the Presidential Range and its prehistoric continental ice sheet covering left vegetation above its tree line only found in the near-arctic regions of Labrador. Its slopes are drained by several rivers, including the Ammonoosuc, the Dry, the Rocky Branch, the New, the Cutler, and the Peabody.

Below-zero temperatures on more than 65 days per year ensure summit permafrost, and hurricane wind velocities of at least 75 mph pound it on more than half of its winter days. Its lowest temperature was -49 degrees Fahrenheit and highest wind velocity 231 mph, as recorded at its summit on April 12, 1934.

Yet, none of this daunted summit-strivers. The initial path, so to speak, was forged in 1642 when Darby Field, aided by two Indian guides, made the first recorded climb, while the first scientific mission, the Belknap-Cutler Expedition, was conducted more than a century later, in 1784, when it was undertaken for the purpose of measurement and alpine plant collection.

Renamed Mount Washington after then-General George Washington, it was also the target of Colonel George Gibbs, a mineralogist, who cleared its first path in 1809, but made several successive climbs since then.

Forging their own summit-surmounting path a decade later, Abel and Ethan Allen Crawford, a father-and-son team, passed it to brother Thomas, who considerably improved it between 1838 and 1840 by widening it and rendering it suitable for horse negotiation. Although it has no current equestrian use, it remains as the Crawford Bridle Path and is maintained by the White Mountain National Forest.

Each “step up” brought those path blazers to new strata as the flora and fauna reflected the climactic conditions generated by their elevation-associated temperatures, which dip three degrees with every 1,000 feet, and wind and precipitation, which commensurably increase.

Between 2,000 and 2,500 feet, for example, hardwood forests-of American beech, sugar maple, yellow birch, white ash, white pine, red maple, red spruce, Eastern hemlock, and red oak-predominate, becoming spruce-fir forests, of balsam and red varieties, up to 4,000 feet.

As if malnourished, the balsam fir trees creating their own system become stunted at about 4,500 feet, yielding to the short transition, or Krummholz, zone, up to 4,800 feet, where twisted and slanted trees mark the end of the forest and the beginning of the alpine area. The latter, considered above the tree line, is no longer able to support tree growth because of its pounding rain, snow, fierce winds, and intolerable temperatures, and instead incubates robust, low-lying plants.

There are two significant plateaus above 5,000 feet: Bigelow Lawn, an alpine meadow with arctic sedges, and Alpine Meadow, abundant, as its name suggests, with alpine wildflowers.

The summit is a rocky, desolate, wind-swept moonscape whose view of the other Presidential Range peaks is awe-inspiring when the clouds allow it.

In order to take up the challenge imposing Mount Washington seems to propose, visitors have three principle means of doing so: by foot, road, or rail.

2. Foot:

Most of the challenges early ascenders had faced remain for modern-day hikers and climbers. Because of the mountain’s weather severity and changeability, the season for either is relatively short, running from Memorial to Columbus Day, with often-encountered mud, snow, and ice after this time. Winter surmounts, fraught with the most frigid temperatures, highest winds, deepest snow accumulations, and the least amount of daylight, should only be attempted by the most fit, trained, experienced, and provisioned. Ravines expose climbers to potential avalanches and the summit is usually shrouded in cloud.

Indeed, a sign located at the mountain’s approach warns, “Stop! The area ahead has the worst weather in America. Many have died there from exposure, even in the summer. Turn back now if the weather is bad. White Mountain National Forest.”

Trails vary according to length, elevation gain, gradient, severity, and obstacle, and run the spectrum from short, low-elevation hikes to full, summit-surmounting climbs. Of the latter, there are several.

From the west, for example, the Ammonoosuc River Trail, passing waterfalls, the Lakes of the Clouds, and the Appalachian Mountain Club hut, offers a 3,800-foot elevation gain and covers a 9.2-mile round trip distance. The Jewell Trail, Gulfside Trail, and Trinity Heights Connector, with only a 100-foot greater elevation gain, offers a ten-mile round trip path that initially follows the westerly ridge of Mount Clay before leading to Mount Washington and crosses both the Ammonoosuc River and the Cog Railway tracks.

There are two approaches from the east, both of which are accessible from Route 16 in Pinkham Notch. The first, the Tuckerman Ravine Trail, offers a 4,250-foot elevation gain and an 8.4-mile round trip distance. Because of its moderate grades, it is the most popular. The second, also encompassing the Tuckerman Ravine Trail, as well as the Boot Spur Trail and the Davis and Crawford paths, entails a 4,300-foot elevation gain. At 10.6 miles in length, it is both rougher and longer than the previous routing, but is also considerably more scenic.

The Glen Boulder Trail, combined with the Davis and Crawford paths, affords a southeasterly approach, again from Route 16, and entails a 4,400-foot elevation gain during its 11.4-mile round trip stretch.

From the northeast, the Great Gulf and Gulfside trails, with the Trinity Heights Connector, penetrates the deep, secluded Great Gulf Valley and proceeds over the 1,600-foot rocky headwall, delivering a 5,000-foot elevation gain and the longest, 15.8-mile round trip distance.

3. Road

Present-day sport, of mountain climbing, followed and emulated past-day necessity to reach Mount Washington’s summit, but a designated trail for equestrian and wagon negotiation was soon proposed. Abel Crawford, reaching the top on horseback as early as 1840, paved the way-at least in idea.

Access, to the mountain’s peak, is exactly what bred it-in the form of rail to its base. In order to provide an overland route to transport wheat from Montreal to Portland, the Atlantic and Saint Lawrence (later Grand Trunk) Railroad laid track in 1851, carrying passengers into Gorham, New Hampshire. Quickly assessing the area’s tourism potential, it invested in infrastructure, including the Alpine House Hotel, a road to Pinkham Notch, and the peak-pinnacling Glen Bridle Path, at the foot of which rose the First Glen House.

But the desire to triumph over Mount Washington’s imposing height provided the impetus for a road that could support horse-drawn tourist-transporting omnibuses and a peak hotel in which to lodge them, and Governor Noah Martin granted a charter to the Mount Washington Road Company on July 1, 1853 for an eight-mile artery from the Glen House to the summit. David O. Macomber, of Middleton, New Hampshire, was appointed Project Manager.

Not all visions, however, are transferred into reality. Construction in pre-motorized and relatively primitive times was daunting. Residing in shanties or tents, and devoting between ten and twelve hours per day, workers often relied on their own strength and brute force to transport supplies to the site from an eight-mile distance, relying on horse or oxen, hand-boring their own blasting holes, filling them with black powder, and then removing the explosion’s resultant gravel and rock.

Yet, by the time the project had reached its halfway point in 1856, funding had been as exhausted as the men performing the job.

Assuming the project three years later, the newly formed Mount Washington Summit Road Company completed the artery, and the Mount Washington Carriage Road-the country’s first man-made tourist attraction-officially opened amid a ceremony on August 8, 1861. Earning the title of “first to the top” had been coveted by many, particularly Joseph Thompson, proprietor of the Glen House, and Colonel John Hitchcock, landlord of the Alpine House.

Ascending in a horse-drawn carriage three weeks before the road’s completion, and negotiating still-existent boulders near its terminus, the former succeeded.

The road’s popularity, confirming its concept, progressively increased, as did the number of first feats accomplished as a result of it. Three members of the Dartmouth Outing Club, for example, made the first ski ascent in 1913, and they were followed by the first husky team to reach the summit in 1926. Four- to six-horse wagons, accommodating between nine and 12, transported as many as 100 daily passengers.

But, although the road in and of itself did not change, its use did when Freelan O. Stanley had earlier made the first steam-motor climb on it in two hours, ten minutes on August 31, 1899 and it paved the way for the first gasoline powered automobile to follow in its motorized tracks, sparking its redesignation from its initial “Carriage” to a final “Auto Road.”

A graph line representing the annual number of cars using it is as steeply angled-and rising-as the mountain it represents: 3,100 in 1935, 6,600 in 1955, 12,800 in 1961, and more than 45,000 today.

Present-day motorists can “take the high road,” as it advertises itself, by accessing it from Route 16 in Pinkham Notch on the mountain’s east side. The Great Glen Lodge, with a restaurant for breakfast and lunch, and the adjacent Douglas A. Philbrook Red Barn Museum, are located at the Auto Road’s base. The latter, the last of the many horse and hay barns which had been integral to the then Carriage Road’s staging process, is complementary and features a collection of restored wagons, carriages, stagecoaches, and automobiles that once left their own imprints in the path up the mountain.

The basic fee to enter the Auto Road includes the car, its driver, an audio or CD cassette tour, and the famed, “This car climbed Mt. Washington:” bumper sticker, with separate and supplemental charges for additional adults and/or children and motorcycles.

Guided van tours, including commentary and admission to the Mount Washington Observatory Museum at the summit, last 90 minutes, with a third of the time at the top, while season and time-of-day tours entail those conducted at dawn, in the evening, and during winter, in which case ski-equipped vehicles operate “SnowCoach” trips.

Intermodal climbs, offered between late-May and early-October, enable the hiker to travel one way by foot and the other by van, with hiker’s shuttle stops at the Auto Road base, the Great Gulf Train Head, and the Appalachian Mountain Club’s Pinkham Notch Camp.

Driver and mother nature respectively produce ever-changing vistas and weather, as the car negotiates the winding, climbing, partially paved and partially graveled, mountain surmounting road that once bore the imprint of horses’ hooves.

Passing through a ravine on the mountain’s east side, the 7.6-mile-long Mount Washington Auto Road ascends from 1,543 feet to 6,288, with an elevation gain of between 594 and 880 feet per mile, passing Two Mile Park; the Mycko’s, Jenny Lind, and Twin bridges; the Halfway House and Horn Park; and negotiating S-turns and Five Mile Grade. Moving northerly, it widens and commences a distinct climb on the crest of Chander Ridge, passing Cragway Spring and Six Mile Park and ascending Six Mile Grade.

4. Rail:

Prior to the motorized days, Mount Washington’s pendulum had swung to its west side and to yet another peak-pinnacling method-rail-each technological step having provided another step up the imposing New Hampshire monolith.

Its catalyst-once again proving the validity of the “turn pain into purpose” philosophy-had been the climb that Sylvester Marsh, a Campton, New Hampshire, native and wealthy Chicago meat-packing veteran, had made in 1852. Caught and lost in a fierce snowstorm, he was forced to spend the night on the mountain, almost succumbing to its arctic temperatures and vowing, upon his return, to devise a means of ascending it that was rapid, comfortable, enclosed, and safe.

Mechanically-minded, he had already had considerable experience with applying for farm machinery patents, such as for grain conveyor belts and dryers, and therefore parlayed this background into a rail system whose technology would enable a locomotive and at least one car to negotiate, climb, and surmount grades hitherto impractical for conventional railroads.

Devising a plan for a mountain-climbing cog rail system, he applied for a patent for it on August 24, 1858, but it was rejected the following month, the New Hampshire Legislature claiming that five similar submissions had already been received between 1836 and 1849 and laughing at the idea with the now-famous statement that Marsh “might as well build a railway to the moon.”

Undeterred, he applied for an amended one three years later, on August 3, and it was quickly granted.

The secret to the system’s ascend-ability was a small cogwheel positioned below the locomotive whose 19 teeth would bite into the cylindrical rungs of a center track, pulling it and its cars up the mountain, like tiny hands grasping bars, on a trestle that, depending upon its section, was positioned somewhere between the horizontal and vertical and thus formed an angled ladder. The engine itself would provide the propulsion and the traditional rails would guide otherwise standard wheels.

Financed with an initial, $20,000 of capital, the system’s underlying Mount Washington Steam Railway Company was organized. Marsh would serve as both its president and construction agent.

After several mountain surveys, it was decided to adhere to the route laid out by Ethan Allen Crawford in 1821 on the mountain’s west side and to begin track laying at its base near the Ammonoosuc River. Access to it, however, was hardly obstacle-free. An old logging road, extended from Fabyan’s Station, terminated half a mile from the construction site, and the remainder of the distance was densely forested.

A rudimentary, oxen-traveled trail hacked out ultimately enabled men to reach the construction worker-housing log cabin. Timber had to be hand hewed.

The Cog road consisted of 12-foot sections, or “bents,” and progressed in number from “1″ at the base to “1200″ at the summit

Each component of the construction process, which itself commenced in May of 1866, made the proceeding one possible. Marsh himself, for example, built the first 40-rod test track. The first locomotive, still in sections, was then ox-pulled to it, and a platform car to transport construction materials followed it.

The geared locomotive itself was cabless and featured a single pair of cylinders and drive wheels. Although it had been called “Hero,” its vertical, pepper sauce bottle resembling boiler quickly earned it the nickname of “Peppersass.”

Pushing a flatbed car during a two-hour test run on August 29, 1866, it successfully demonstrated the cog concept, construction, and capability, and attracted the necessary additional investment from initially skeptical railroad companies.

Reaching a section designated “Jacob’s Ladder” two years later, on August 14, the world’s first rack-and-pinion Cog Railway reached the summit in July of 1869 after a $139,500 construction project, becoming the second steepest-after one in Switzerland-and it is today both the oldest and a National Historic Engineering Landmark.

Cog Railway access was improved in July of 1876 when the White Mountain Railroad completed a spur line from Fabyan’s Station to its base.

Other than “Peppersass,” it had initiated service with three other upright boiler configured locomotives: the “George Stephenson,” built in 1868, and “Atlas” and “Cloud,” which followed two years later.

Employing wood for the first 40 years, these and the 18 other engines in the fleet subsequently used coal, each ascent requiring a ton of it, as well a 1,000 gallons of water. Combining original, 19th-century cog and 21st-century “green” technologies, the four locomotives introduced since 2003 are bio-diesel types and burn between 16 and 18 gallons of fuel per trip.

The Mount Washington Cog Railway, reached by the six-mile base road leading to it from Route 302 next to Fabyan’s Station, offers three-hour round trips to the summit between May and October, with time at the top varying according to steam or diesel locomotive propulsion, and one-hour halfway trips in November and December.

Unlike the Auto Road’s east side access, the Cog Railway’s track climbs the west side and enroute views and vistas are therefore different. All trains depart from and return to its Marshfield Base Station, named after the railroad’s inventor. The depot itself offers reservations and ticketing; a self-service restaurant, Catalano’s at the Cog, with prime views of the train departure point; a gift shop; and the Cog Museum.

Aside from showing the “Railway to the Moon” film, the latter provides a glimpse into early cog technology. A 1908 boiler, for instance, was continually used by the Number 9 locomotive– itself constructed by the American Locomotive Works-until it was replaced by a Hodge Boiler Works-furnished contemporary boiler in 1986. The devil’s shingle, employed between 1870 and 1920, had enabled railroad workers to descend the track’s length in less than three minutes. A frame section demonstrates how the cogwheel’s gears mesh with the track’s rungs. A log cabin office offers insight into the life of Sylvester March-promoter, as well as inventor and builder, of the railroad. The Mount Washington Cog Railway Shop furnished all but one of the seven currently operating locomotives and cab and boiler sections illustrate their construction.

“Old Peppersass,” the very first engine to propel the railroad up Mount Washington and into National Engineering Landmark fame, is displayed outside. Built, of course, by Marsh himself and ox-transported to the track in sections, it weighs four tons, cost $3,000, and could transport a payload equivalent to 60 passengers. It presently sports the letters, “N. 1 Mt. W. R.” on its side. It was withdrawn from service after it literally wore itself out and succumbed to mechanical exhaustion.

The 4.8-foot-wide cog track (a half inch less than the American Standard Gauge), commencing at the 2,700-foot base station and entirely laid on a wooden trestle, spans three miles as it ascends a narrow ridge line between the Ammonoosuc and Burt ravines at an average 25-percent, or 1,320-foot-per-mile, grade. Its nine curves vary in radius from 497 to 945 feet.

All trains consist of a steam or diesel locomotive attached to the back of a single wooden or metal passenger coach in pusher configuration and, after pulling away from the slender platform, almost immediately cross the Ammonoosuc River and then begin their climb up Cold Spring Hill, the track’s second-steepest section.

It next arches to the right, facilitated by solar-powered, hydraulic switches, circumventing Waumbek Tank at a 3,800-foot elevation, and either awaits the descending train so that it can pass it on its own side track or replenishes itself with water, if it is a steam engine.

Visible in the distance on the right side is the Appalachian Mountain Club’s camp and hut and several Presidential Range peaks, including Mounts Monroe, Franklin, Eisenhower, Clinton, Jackson, and Webster.

Passing the Halfway House at 4,500 feet, the locomotive-and-car pair now surmounts Jacob’s Ladder, whose grade is an astonishing 37.41-percent (and renders it impossible to walk down the car’s aisle without grasping its seat backs), and transcends the tree line.

Crossing the Appalachian Trail, which stretches from Maine to Georgia, the train approaches the summit, with views of the Great Gulf Ravine on the left and its dramatic, 2,000-foot drop to Spalding Lake.

5. The Summit:

Converging point-and mountain-luring goal-of all hikers, drivers, and rail riders is the summit, location of the 59-acre Mount Washington State Park, which had been established in 1971.

Vistas from this desolate, wind-swept moonscape, when not obscured by cloud or precipitation, are part of the purpose of the climb and encompass a 130-mile radius. The four states of New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont, and New York are visible, along with the province of Quebec in Canada and the glimmer of the Atlantic Ocean. Across the Great Gulf are numerous Presidential Range peaks, such as Jefferson, Adams, and Madison, and all are below the viewer-as often occurs with the clouds themselves-explaining the American Indians’ belief that the lofty, exalted position had been the exclusive domain of the Great Spirit.

With the exception of the State Park and an additional 60 acres of private land, most of the visible mountains belong to the 725,000-acre White Mountain National Forest, itself the spawning ground of four major New England river tributaries.

Visitor services are located in the Sherman Adams Summit building, the fourth and only non-hotel Summit House to grace the peak. Serving as the Mount Washington State Park’s headquarters, the building, constructed in 1980 as an integral part of the north slope, features a cafeteria, two gift shops, a post office, a museum, and the Mount Washington Observatory, the latter of which is a Class A weather station for the US Weather Bureau.

Another vistable structure is the Tip-Top House. Built in 1853 at a $7,000 cost from stone blasted from the very mountain that supports it, the 84-foot-long, 28-foot-wide hotel rose from the ruble to compete with the neighboring First Summit House, which had been completed the same year. A pitched roof, containing 17 tiny bedrooms, was later added.

Abandoned for 35 years, it regained its purpose when the Great Fire of June 18, 1908 ravaged the subsequently built, 91-room Second Summit House. Resurrected and remodeled, the Tip-Top House itself became the mountain top’s only hostelry for seven years until a replacement Summit House had been constructed in 1915–at which time it had let its guard down and was itself the victim of fire.

Reconstructed and relegated to a Summit House annex, it was vacated in 1968 before being restored for a second time, in 1987, so that it could begin its third life-this time as a National Historic Landmark.

Another significant structure is the Summit Stage Office, which presently serves as a souvenir shop and the hiker’s shuttle depot. Having housed the Mount Washington Observatory from 1932 to 1937, it was the location of the world’s highest measured wind velocity, of 231 mph, on August 12, 1934, as indicated by its outside sign, which reads, “The highest wind ever recorded by man was here – 231 mph.”

Learning the Disturbing Facts about Credit Card Debt

When I received my first credit card in the mail at age 18 I was ecstatic, I said to myself, wow now I’m getting somewhere in life. This credit card company thinks I’m worthy of 500 dollars in credit. So I made my monthly payments like a good consumer and watched my credit limit grow. I thought boy this company must think a lot of me to take such a risk. I however had no idea how the money came into existence. All I cared about was that as long as when I slapped the plastic down I was approved. Like most young people I had no idea what an interest rate even was much less how it effected my monthly payments. I was like a lot of kids in America today, my parents were not a big part of my early adult life and so I really didn’t have much guidance when it came to making financial decisions. The lessons I learned were hard and I continue to learn as each day passes.

After all what is credit? When you get that “Pre-Approved” application in the mail, does that mean that the credit card companies have been watching you personally and are rewarding you for having so called “good credit,” Of course not, they are looking to make money just like any business, and they are making a lot of it.

Today there are thousands of people who are losing their homes, farms, and businesses because they do not understand the meaning of credit. This article will explain the difference between money and credit and will show you how the banks create “credit” and pretend that it is “money”.

There has been a monetary debate in our country for some time now and that debate focuses on two central issues. First that only gold and silver are Constitutional money Article I Section 10 clause 1U.S. Constitution and second that the dollar is defined by the Mint Act of 1792, and that a Federal Reserve Note is not a dollar. There is a third area that is not well understood, but which is very important. It is the most important issue of all because 97% of our money supply today consists of bank credit whereas Federal Reserve Notes and coins consist of less than 3%.Today every bank loan in the United States can be legally voided because it is based on credit instead of money!

YEAH RIGHT, you say. Well I have explored that accusation for over a year now and here is what I have found. One must ask the question, “What is Credit?” after all we throw the word around so freely today, but how many of us truly understand its meaning. Credit is the opposite of money. Money is legal tender for the payment of debts as defined by Congress in 31 U.S.C.A. Sec 392. This section basically describes all coins and currency issued by the U.S. government as legal tender for all debts, public and private. Many will argue that Federal Reserve Notes are Unconstitutional, but for this article it will be assumed that coins and paper currency both represent money.

Now let’s assume you are going to make a purchase say for an automobile or a living room suite. You might say that your credit is good or that your promise to pay is sufficient. In other words the seller trusts that you will pay the money back. At that point you sign a loan agreement in which you pledge the auto as collateral for the security agreement. In other words the auto dealer has accepted your credit, your promise to pay, in exchange for the auto.

OK here is where it starts to get interesting. Now consider a bank loan. When you go to the bank for a loan, based on your promise to pay and your good credit the bank gives you the loan right? The bank has accepted your promise to pay the money back, but ask yourself this question. What exactly did the bank loan you? Well, the bank will invariably give you a check which is also a “promise to pay” you so many dollars, with interest. What you and the bank have is a bilateral contract when you exchange “promises to pay”. In other words you have accepted each others credit, and yet no money has exchanged hands. This is an important point; no “money” has exchanged hands.

Now what do you do with the check? Probably one of two things: either you deposit it in your checking account or you bring it to your car dealer. Either way, when the check gets deposited it goes directly to the banks bookkeeping department and the numbers from the check are entered into your account. Now the bank will say that its deposits have increased, still no “money” has exchanged hands.

These bookkeeping entries are called “demand deposits” meaning that the customer can walk into the bank at any point in time and demand the deposit from the vault. In accounting terms, the money is placed into the banks liabilities column because this is money that the bank owes the people.

Now what do you think the bank has for assets? Well it has a small amount of vault cash which the Federal Government requires them to keep on hand and a whole lot of IOU’s for those entire loan agreements people sign their names to. The bank is gambling that not every customer will come into the bank at the same time and demand their money in cash and it’s a pretty good gamble. All those promises to pay are on paper so also are all of the bank assets.

All this amounts to is a transfer of numbers or book entries from one checking account to another. The same thing happens when you write a check. Numbers called “dollars” are transferred from your checking account to someone else’s. When a credit card is used, bank credit or book entries are created and transferred to another person at the same time.

The next question is, if it so easy for a bank to create “credit”, which is used like money, how then is this “credit”, destroyed? The “credit” is destroyed when the principle of the loan is repaid. However, the interest collected by the bank on the “credit” it loaned, is transferred, to another account for distribution to its stockholders.

What happens is that because 97% of the nation’s money supply consists of credit which is all created by private corporations (banks), and because interest is charged on every dollar of “credit” used, debts are constantly created for which no money or credit exists to repay these debts. Hence our money system can be best described as a “debt usury” money system, for every dollar of credit which comes into existence, a debt is created to the banks and interest (usury) is charged.

Under our present money system, the Federal government will never be able to balance its budget and the national debt will continue to grow exponentially. However, every bank loan made in the United States today is illegal, since all bank loans are based on “credit” instead of “money”! The words “ultra vires” are important words because they mean that “a contract made by a corporation beyond the scope of its corporate powers is unlawful.”(see Black’s Law Dictionary)

The courts have consistently ruled that banks cannot lend their credit, but can only lend their money and that all loans of credit are “ultra vires.” Since no bank charter gives them permission to lend their “credit”, and Congress never gave the banks permission to create money, all such loans of credit are ultra vires or unlawful. The bank, by loaning credit, has unjustly enriched itself. It pays no interest for the use of its credit but charges its customers the same amount of interest as if it loaned out its money.

These practices are a high level form of loansharking. It is deception and fraud. The collection of interest on credit is in violation of all usury laws. After all, the bank is collecting interest on money which doesn’t exist. There are many programs today such as a particular program which I represent, Debt Solutions International (DSI.) There are over two trillion dollars worth of illegal bank loans out there waiting to be challenged. A program such as DSI’s is a much better alternative to bankruptcy since you get to keep your property and void the bank loans at the same time.

Anyone can walk off his property and let the bank have it, but to do so is to reward them for their fraudulent acts. It would be much better to sue the bank on fraud and usury charges and ask that all contracts which you signed on the day you took out the loan be declared “ultra vires”, null and void. That includes deeds of trust, mortgages, notes and security agreements, but particularly credit cards.

For a long time, patriots have been writing to their Congressmen asking them to give us an honest money system without extortionate interest rates and they have ignored us. I am not an expatriate, I still believe in my country, but our current fractional reserve banking system must be eliminated. If we do not do something our children will pay the price of inheriting our debts. I believe with the power of the internet, consumer education will become so powerful that the banks and the “powers that be” will meet their match. People will see that programs such as those offered by DSI and others are nothing to be afraid of and will become mainstream.