Stand Up America
 

Welcome

A huge THANKS to all of your who periodically return to read and comment on my personal (over 70 year old) viewpoints. I am humbled.

StandUpAmerica.us

is a web log (Blog) which I created to share with you things that I have found that folks, like you and me, can do to help We feel better about our own future. Some things are deceptively simple to do. Some things are exceptionally difficult. None are radical. None are fringe activities. None are illegal. All are just straight forward activities that We law abiding folks can do to take charge of our future.

This site is still under construction. As events in our country unfold and certain insights make themselves known, I will report on what you can do to take charge (in a little or big way) of your own destiny. You do not have to feel like events are affecting your life without your input.

(The most recent entries are at the bottom of this page)

To Get Started:

It is clear that since the Attacks of Sept 11, We have to learn to be more vigilant of our surroundings. It is not necessary to become a recluse in order to survive in these times. I live in a small (30,000 pop) community and eye contact is the norm. I have lived in big cities where eye contact is avoided in order to survive. Times have changed. Seeing who is around you, what is out of place, or what is not normal, is going to be one of the keys to feeling in control of your future. If you see something that is not 'right', identify an authority that you can report it to. Do not take things into your own hands. Keep out of harm's way. Make the authorities do their job. They know how to handle things and still preserve others' individual rights while protecting you. If they can't or won't handle the situation, then you have yet another 'not right situation' to report to yet another authority. Most of this kind of reporting can be done by email.

Since reporting these 'something is out of the ordinary' observations by email require destination email addresses, it seems like a really good idea to have your local newspaper publish the email addresses of as many community government agencies as they can identify, IN EVERY ISSUE. Some papers are already doing this, to a greater or lesser degree. Is yours? If not, start sending emails to your local paper, have you friends and colleagues do the same. Ask the Editor to publish the email address of every member of community government, from the Mayor, down to Animal Control on the front page of EVERY ISSUE. You need to know who they are and how to get in touch with them if ever you should have to report something 'out of the ordinary' that you observed.


Gas Prices

There isn't anyone that I know who is comfortable with the war. It's not a lack of patriotism. It's not that they don't support our troops. It's just that there's this huge amount being spent, in both monetary and human terms, which is getting harder and harder to justify for even those who initially favored the attack on Iraq.

Make no mistake, this war is about oil.

If our checks and balances were functioning normally, Congress should have intervened on behalf of We, the People, to restrict the President's war powers. But instead, bent over from carrying all the money that big oil has donated to their campaigns and pocketbooks, the House and Senate decided it was in their best interest to wage war and secure profits for big oil. Exxon announced last week that their US PROFITS from oil are at 100 MILLION DOLLARS PER DAY!

Ponder this for a moment: Do you think that if you had the money, you could reasonably expect to be able to buy off the vote of a Representative or a Senator for, say, a million dollars each? I know that you would certainly have my attention if you waved $1 million under my nose.

Consider that We have 435 Representatives and 100 Senators in the US. That's a total of 535 Congressmen, or $535 million in potential payoffs or about 5 DAYS' PROFITS FOR JUST ONE OIL COMPANY!

I'm not telling you that all of Congress is on the take (you get to decide that for yourself). What I am illustrating here is the shear POWER that the oil companies have. And We know that power corrupts. 

A Solution

Now I can't come up with 100 million dollars each day to try to counter the potential oil company payoffs, but I do have a vote. And one thing that will clear a Congressman's mind about who is in charge, is if he thinks that he is going to lose his seat in an election. Because that also means that he is going to lose any chance of payoffs if he is out of office.

So if you are feeling powerless, understand that you really don't need to. You have at you fingertips that ability to make it clear to your Congressmen through emails, that you won't vote for him/her unless (s)he shows you that (s)he is work diligently to eliminate our dependence on fossil fuel, and thereby make the war unnecessary.

The Iraq war is costing We $275 MILLION PER DAY.

The money (not to mention, the lives) We could save by eliminating our presence in Iraq can be put to good use. If Congress had resisted the President's Big Lie about weapons of mass destruction, had authorized a restricted police action aimed at eliminating Sadam for the Iraqi people, then got the heck out of Dodge, it could have invested that $235 Million per day for the past four years (it took We a year to find Sadam) in developing renewable fuel resources.

It took Brazil less than three years to ramp up ethanol (alcohol) production from zero to enough to satisfy 80% of the nation's fuel use. That includes creating a viable efficient sugar beet crop, building distillation facilities (analogous to an oil refineries) and distribution points (E85 can be dispensed by regular gasoline pumps). Detroit has been making E85 (85% alcohol fuel) compatible automobiles for Brazil for the past 10 years (yes SUVs too)! They are already on the assembly line - zero ramp up time.

So Congress could have (actually still can) spent all that war money helping the farmer harvest new alcohol crops, could have spent all that war money helping all those companies that want to build new distilleries, could have spent all that war money helping the auto industry kick start their E85 changeover, could have spent all that war money helping independent gas stations make the changeover to E85 distribution, could have spent that war money helping engineers design retrofit kits for all the gas burning vehicles that are sitting in our driveways.

But Congress didn't have our best interest in mind and caved into the Bush administration. Shame on them.

The result would have been E85 fuel alcohol which costs $.25 per gallon to farm, $.25 per gallon to distill, and $.25 per gallon to distribute (that's $.75 per gallon cost to you at the pump)! Again, too bad, shame on them. And shame on We for letting it happen.

So here are three things that you can do:

1) Email your Congressmen and instruct them to sign on to a renewable fuel resources plan that weans us off of gasoline within THREE years, or you won't vote for them. Simple as that. We don't need ten years to get away from oil dependency, all that does is allow big oil to buy up failing farms so that they can control the alcohol prices like they do oil prices,

2) Email the CEOs of Wal-Mart, Costco, Sam's Club, Home Depot, Lowes, Target, and any other big merchandising business in your area that has large parking lots (typically under utilized) and tell them that they can vastly improve their esteem in the community (they all worry about that) if they simply installed a single E85 pump somewhere in their parking lot and dispensed to their customers. After the first pump paid for itself, add another pump, then another, then another,

3) Email the President of every College and University in this and other countries, and explain that they would immeasurably improve their incoming funding (either by grants, licensing or direct sales) if their (engineering and computer) science departments could design and develop conversion kits for older fuel injected gasoline engines to use E85 ethanol.

You Get The Idea.

I will report soon on more opportunities for you to Take Charge of Your Future.


Housing Bubble Collapse

The Housing crisis is simple to understand. People got greedy. Folks who normally couldn't qualify to own their own home, were given loans anyway. Can you blame them - they wanted a piece of the American Dream, too. 

But unlike most who came before them, they didn't have to pay their dues. They weren't asked to scrimp and save until they had the proper income, savings and credit score to qualify for a real loan. 

Banks (albeit admittedly under pressure from the fed) were having a field day approving loans for which there was insufficient collateral (or character) to secure the loans, and selling off those mortgages ('paper' as it is called) to high risk lenders at a cash discount. 

Banks knew this was wrong, they knew the market was overheated. But making money is their first obligation to their stockholders. 

We've had seven recessions since the gas crunch of the 1970's. All but two of them came from overheated real estate markets. It is a phenomenon well known in the banking community. Each time, folks tighten their belts and make due. A small percentage couldn't make it and foreclosures were inevitable. 

But a huge negative impact of these recurring housing bubble collapses were ameliorated in the past by the fact that most home loans where awarded to folks who had enough capital stability to sustain a 'hitch in the git-along'. So that even when housing prices folded back, they were economically stable enough to maintain paying their mortgages and there were far fewer resulting foreclosures.

Not so this time. These 'thin' loans all but evaporated as housing prices folded back, sending hundreds of thousands of homes into instant foreclosure - why would anyone continue to make mortgage payments on a $500,000 loan on property that was only worth $250,000? Only to be bought up by those who had the wealth to withstand the collapse. Making the rich richer, and the poor poorer.

We are going to continue to have housing bubble collapses. The secret to survival is no secret - don't allow banks to loan against purchases that folks cannot afford, no matter how enticing the banks (or the Fed) make it look. Trade that need for instant gratification (of owning your own home) for the long term stability of not losing that home through an economic downturn by paying your dues - making sure you have the money in the bank, you have a stable job, and a backup reserve before making the purchase.

Risk is fine, but Russian Roulette is simply crazy.


The Recession

I don't think that Greenspan or the rest of the Fed for that matter, realized how delicate the balance is between consumer confidence and government (miss-) action.

Greenspan says in a CBS (I think) interview that he didn't know about the Housing Bubble until 'just recently'. Now, no one will refute that he is a really smart man, and has led the treasury with great skill over the years, but honestly, he had no idea that the number one economic engine in the US economy was overheated and underfunded? Sheesh.

We, the People, probably could have held up under one or the other, either the Gas Crunch or the Housing Bubble Collapse, while the war was holding a gun to our heads (or those of our children), but it is clear that We lost confidence in our government when We were hit by both at the same time.

Then it was like dominoes falling:

-The war effort continued hampering our national infrastructure (education and health insurance) development, 
-Gas prices went through the roof (simply because the Emirates could do it),
-Consumers naturally cut back spending,
-Banks, holding billions in 'thin' (underfunded) notes, started up their foreclosure engines,
-Businesses cut back purchases in response to tighter money,
-Manufactures cut back durable goods production in response to consumer spending,
-The poorly run auto industry, crippled by union contracts fabricated in another era, but due and payable now, started to crash and burn, seeking government bailout money,
-The fed uncovered Wall Street's two largest scams in its history,
-Banks, seeing what the auto companies got, started crying their own tune of  'we can't make it without help' while continuing to post consistently high profits,
-And We, the People, can't afford health insurance to protect our families in this, the richest country in the world.

One simply can't ignore that this country is ripe for revolution. Not the one with guns and bullets (although that may be an element), but one of  congressional 'Throw the Bums Out". 

If Ross Perot taught We anything, it is that you CAN get the attention of your government by threatening to take their jobs away.


The Economy Eases

Could it be that after only three years (declared, 8 years actual), our economy is showing signs of recovering from this awful recession? Looks like it.

It is interesting that for the last 12 months, the oil companies have held a lid on fuel prices at the pump to under $3/gallon throughout most of the US. That is indeed promising. 

Not so much of a mystery, though, since the alternative was going to be for the oil lobby to have to 'retrain' a huge crop of new congressmen (some even with a conscience) in the ways of the oil companies. That's risky, even for big oil.

So, We the People, got to see what flexing our muscles at the polls could really produce. We have the longest period of gasoline price stability in years. Congratulations to you all.

And, of course, We really didn't have to do all that much flexing - just threatening to, had the same effect.

Couple that with the fact that the Fed has made gobbling up these foreclosures, from the housing bubble burst, so darn difficult and time consuming, investors are beginning to return to more conventional opportunities that present more tradition funding mechanisms instead of short sales, bank sales, etc.

This means that money is just beginning to find its way back into the middle class, which up till now has been sucked dry at every possible tax turn. The rich (because they have no need) and the poor (because they have no voice) do not determine when the economy finally eases. It is the middle class that is the engine of the economy. 

Big business can build all they want, but if the middle class isn't buying, the economy is not moving.


Health Care Reform Act

Now We are going to have to grapple with the Health Care Reform Act - probably the single most damaging piece of legislation ever passed by congress. The debate (or circus) over the provisions of the act all but stopped any chance of economic recovery taking place while the bill was in limbo. 

Now that it has passed congress, we'll see if it can pass its constitutionality tests. Doctors will be hard pressed to participate in the program even if it does remain law, and lawyers are wringing their hands in disbelief of their good fortune. Meanwhile, those of We who need the Health Care Reform the most continue to pay extortion money to insurance companies for our coverage, and many more still have no health care umbrella at all.

It is clear that the dynamics of the old Health Care system have been pretty much lost on the inventors of this new law. 

The old system wasn't broken, it simply didn't have the sensibility to protect itself against greed.

We could have completely repaired the old Health Care System with one simple decision on the part of congress - and that would have been to cap the amount of money that lawyers could extract from Insurance Companies for their clients in a single court action. 

In return for this awards restriction, victims' lawyers would be allowed to return to court every 3 years to revisit the amount of compensation required by their clients. If the client needs more money to survive the next three years, the courts could authorize it, again limited by the same cap. The court protects the victim and allows recourse should their survival requirements change, while at the same time keeping the insurance companies from having to pay lopsided lump sum lifetime annuities.

The immediate effect would be the lowering of the Health Insurance premiums for We the People since Insurance companies would no longer have to pay out huge lump sum lifetime annuities to victims, or keep a huge stashes of funds at the ready for payout. 

See, courts award these huge settlements because they need to be sure that victims are compensated for their entire life if their injury is severe enough (because they can only come to court once). So lawyers end up arguing with each other on who can best guess as to how long the victim is going to live, and how bad their client's quality of life can get. Ridiculous when you think of it in those terms, but nonetheless true.

So if our system removed the 'lifetime' element of the payout, and allowed victims to petition the courts to revisit the adequacy of a payout every three years, the uncontrolled balloon expense to insurance companies could be reined way back in and result in way lower premiums for the rest of We, the People.. 

What that means is the We the People, individually, would not have to shoulder the responsibility of paying for a victim's lifetime of expected needs payout all at one time by an insurance company. 

A lump sum lifetime award of, say, 600 million dollars to a victim has to affect an insurance company's bottom line. And protecting their bottom line is, above all else, their most important function. That means We get to pay the bill either with a massive premium increase all at once, or significant (and disproportionate to the services offered) increases in deductibles over the short term.

The courts would benefit with significantly fewer and shorter court battles, the number reduced to those special cases that address valid award requirements beyond the cap limit.

The cases that require revisiting at the end of the three-year period, would be extremely short, not having to litigate fault, only demonstrate victim's changing need.  Kinda Cool, huh?


Covenant With America?

Gingrich's Contract With America from the 80's, I see, has been dusted off and is being renamed by a group of somewhat forward thinking (and worried) congressmen. I'm going to guess that by the end of pre-Election month, We are going to witness another Deer-In-Headlight press conference by congressional leaders guaranteeing that all of congress will sign this new Covenant with America, "but please don't throw us all out of office"!

Yet another sign that the decision of We to adopt the election policy of 'Throw the Bums Out" is working. Congratulations!

The new Covenant With America is going to have to pay more than lip service, or the next round of elections may not be limited to replacing congressmen, but installing a new way of doing business. That would be sad, because it will mean that this experiment of We the People has failed, and failed miserably due to greed.

Component One of any Covenant with America has to include the flat out elimination of the foreclosure mess that the gov put We in. For the next six months, downsize the military foreign deployment to that of non-combat advisor status (i.e. answering questions from the Afghanis via the internet, from cubicles at the pentagon) and instead, spend that money buying every foreclosure on the market in the US. Then give those foreclosed homes back to the folks who originally owned them with easy to handle repayment loans ($100 per month, if that is all that they can afford). With the foreclosures off the market, We the People who have to sell our homes in order to make ends meet for the near term have a chance to do so at fair market values, instead of at fire sale prices! 

The result is that within days, the economy will restart since folks who want to pay their bills, will be able to, people will invest in their future now that they believe that there will be one, and the resulting trickle (or gush) up will put small business back in the drivers seat of a healthy economy.

Component Two of the Covenant will have to be a 2-year crash program for Energy Independence. 

Nobody expects dependence on oil to disappear overnight. None of We small business folks would ever demand that that kind of strain be put on several of our biggest of Big Business and Big Money (we understand the need for their inertia) - but seriously how many lifetimes will it take to spend a billion dollars? Isn't it time for Big Oil (it's all Big) to belly up to the bar and throw a huge chunk of earnings back into the Great Society that made it possible for them to made those billions in the first place, to build the infrastructure that will allow safe efficient non-fossil fuel distribution? 

Here's a surprise: None of We would even care if We ultimately had to purchase the new alternative fuel from the same Big Oil companies to whom We are feeding our hard-earned dollars to right now! That's right. But ONLY if the Alternative Fuel Manufacture and Distribution Rule clearly states that any alternative fuel business HAS to be a DOMESTIC business. It's the only way that We can exercise a certain level of control of the industry through Our government, unlike Our present situation of foreign oil, where We have zero control and not a lot of friends.

Now, Big Oil (which means Big Money and Big Business) might not make as much for their stockholders as they made before selling We fossil-fuel, but that's the price for getting the economy moving so that they can make any money at all. Trust me, We the People don't need gas for Our vehicles when We are ALL out of work!

Component Three of the Covenant with America must include the repeal of the HealthCare reform act and return to the previous system, but with ADDED provisions to arrest the greed that ran rampant in the old system, creating a new system that is fair and profitable to both We, the People and the healthcare systems our government is supposed to be helping. The healthcare system was not broken before, it just suffered from no controls for greed. (See my article above on fixing the health care system.)

Component Four of the Covenant with America has to put a solid plan in place to rebuild our education system. How does our government expect to nurture and generate new and innovative thinking with which to regenerate itself, if all of our young people are working at MacDonald's to the exclusion of going to colleges, business or trade schools, or Junior colleges, or...?

This, however, is not something that the Fed can mandate. But it must spend the time and money educating a generation or two of PARENTS as to the value of education in this society. There is a real question whether Generation-X or -Y or -ALL understand this fundamental rule to survival. If education doesn't matter to parents (and right now it doesn't), then it isn't going to matter to their kids no matter how much government intervention is involved. 


Is There a Leader Left Who Knows How to Capture Our Imagination?

I'm guessing that that would be Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House.

And now I hear that he is considering running against Obama for the Presidency. He has my vote. I am struck every time I hear him speak - how he can make some of the most complicated parts of Washington mechanics so clear. 

I do not agree with everything that he says, but he is one person who I believe can capture the IMAGINATION of We the People. 

And Imagination is what We have suffered a serious lack of for a very long time. 

Look at our Education System. We have increasing population with falling enrollment in our high schools for the past ten years. Isn't that just plain crazy?  These kids aren't transferring into private schools or trade schools, they are simply quitting because making tacos at Taco Heaven is way easier (and cheaper) than gutting it out through some form of higher learning. And the double whammy, here, is that these kids are leaving school EARLY - not even graduating from high school! Is this nuts or what?

These undereducated kids are the folks who are going to make sure that our Governmental machinery continues to work as We get to the age where We won't be able to fix things by ourselves. 

Over 60% of our college and university attendees are foreign born. We the People understand the need for opportunities for the foreign born - weren't We all foreign born not too long ago? But it also means that most of the Inventions by our Scientists and Engineers will not necessarily be for the good of We, but prioritized for the benefit of another country. It is a super simple problem with a tough solution: US Educated and US Employed Aliens are sending most of their money to their families in their native country. It is not fair to try to stop them, so the only way to get things balanced out is to compete - create an education society that trains the children of We in top science and engineering pursuits so that they can compete for the US Jobs and keep the resulting money & ideas (power) here in the US.

Then ponder our Energy Plan (or lack thereof). Because of greed, We are at the mercy of other (some benevolent, others not) governments because of our dependence on their foreign oil. 

It's like having all of our grocery stores buying milk from one farm in Middle America. What if that farm, recognizing its grip on We, decided to charge in excess of what the milk was worth, just because it could, and used the excuse that it wasn't clear how much longer their cows were going to be able to produce milk, so they want to make their money now.

We could diversify and buy our milk from other Middle America farms, but our problem doesn't go away if all the farms in Middle America belong to the same co-op which holds one common pricing structure.

Not having a diversified Energy Plan is a dangerous place to be for We.

All this distills down to our balance of trade. Lots of countries are holding US Paper (Loans), enough that they could bankrupt the US within days (maybe even hours) if they found a need to. We have been lucky so far. But it doesn't take a genius to understand if China is holding a note for more money than We have gold or silver in our vaults to cover, it is going to be exceedingly difficult for We to influence China's Nuclear Arms decisions.

The problem, here, is that We are a nation that has lost its Imagination. A dynamic element unique to the human nature of our country, that our Government no longer understands about We the People (or maybe they do, and they are intentionally trying to kill it). Doesn't that make you mad enough to spit?

There are plenty of examples of the power of this concept of Imagination. On 911, it astounded the world around how We could pull together as a nation, how it was possible for the most fractured people on the earth, for a few weeks, to be able to speak with a single voice, a single heart. 

If 911 was supposed to demoralize us, it backfired. It scared We, but it didn't demoralize. We the People have demonstrated again and again how strong this otherwise fragile experiment of a Volunteer Union of minds and bodies into the Common Cause is.

It is this ethereal concept of capturing the Imagination of We the People, that otherwise good people, who go to Washington and seemingly take their stupid pills after becoming congressmen, have lost sight of - have lost the sense of. 

FDR had it. Kennedy had it. And arguably, Reagan had it. But for some reason, recent professional leaders have forgotten it, and its power. 

It is why Perot, with virtually no political machinery in place, was so effective at changing government from his position as a self-proclaimed political outsider. He understood the absolute power of capturing our Imagination.

I wonder if We are going to see another Leader who can capture the Imagination of We the People, in my lifetime.


The Economy

Our economy is like a huge freight train sitting on a track. It is true that it is creeping, ever so slowly, forward, but only slightly.

Who is it that actually can get this train moving again?

Big-Money and Big-Business have cash, but that's all they have - and because these two entities are just that, machines, their job is to protect their investors. It is not in their genes to separate themselves from their gazillion$ just to benefit the quality of life of We - I don't see any Fortune 500 company offering to help me pay for my health insurance during this recession, or make sure that I have gas in my car when I carpool to work.

The low or no income class has the physical might, the shear numbers, but is helpless because it takes way more than just collective brute force to get this puppy to start moving faster.

There is only one entity that can get this train moving and that is the might of the Middle Class (that would be a huge part of We the People) through their Middle Class assets - their imagination, technology, and innovation.

Big money owns the tracks and maybe the cargo onboard, but the tracks are rusting and the cargo isn't going to get purchased unless and until the middle class is allowed to participate.

The Government (bought and paid for by BM and BB) wants We to believe that painting the freight train so that it looks nice will make it move faster. The reality is as ridiculous as the analogy: a pig with a bow is still a pig. Spending time and money to make the train look better is an exercise in futility, unless, for heavens sake, the gov doesn't have any better solution!. And that's what the American people see. There is nothing more demoralizing to an economic engine than to recognize that its government is powerless to fix it.

So what has to happen to bring the middle class to exercise their innovation, creativity, imagination and power to bear against this economic freight train idling on the tracks?

Simple. Restore the Middle Class's Confidence that We the People mean something to our Government! That protecting We the People, from extinction is the the first priority of the Government in which We have placed our trust, for the benefit of all of our American lives.

It is the innovation of the Middle Class (i.e. SMALL BUSINESS) that has fueled the powering up of our stalled economies throughout our history. Big Business, evolving from this small business innovation, is supposed to be the mass (the inertia) that keeps the momentum of the economy going once it has been kick-started, so that the economy can survive through the inevitable hiccups along the way.

Somehow, in some screwy thought process, Big Business and Big Money has decided that the middle class (and small business) is a threat to them! It's going to take an economist of way greater intellect and experience than I to explain this positively insane upside down thinking. But it is simply not right. 

BM and BB see the Middle Class as the only viable machinery that can effectively restrict the amount of money that BM and BB can make in the US (over the short term). 

Doesn't BM and BB realize that deleting the middle class will eliminate any chance of the innovation or imagination salvaging this economy? Of course they do, and that is why they are investing in, and outsourcing to the Global Market. They really don't expect this country to survive in its present form. Greed trumps We the People, again.

Nevertheless, that appears to be the plan. BB and BM have purchased the gov to implement it.

And it hasn't helped that our president is sitting atop as king of the heap in pronouncing that his vision is one of socialized everything, ultimately eliminating the middle class. There are enough examples of socialized-anything all around We that prove it doesn't work. Take a look at the Canadian Socialized Medicine program.

Government (Executive, Judicial, Legislative) had its chance over the past 10 years to find a way to placate BM and BB while strengthening the position of the Middle Class in our society. It failed. 

Familiarity, I'm afraid, has bred contempt. We the People, are now taking matters in our own hands (and I am not talking about the Tea Party). All across the nation, incumbent candidates are realizing that they are out of work, having been replaced by neophytes that We have voted in. It has gotten to the point that a congressman with no experience (and no IOUs to BB or BM) is a better risk for We to take, than 2 or 4 more years of our present office-holders!


Be Circumspect

With respect to being more aware of your surroundings, a reader of this blog sent me some info that I find interesting. The website allows you to search on any neighborhood and the resulting graphic will identify what felons are living in the area (by name), approximately their residence of record (i.e. Public Record), and what they were convicted of.  The website can be found at:

http://www.FelonSpy.com/search.html


Osama

I was sequestered away for a week during which our family company annually plans its mission for the coming year. During that week, Osama was located and dispatched by our elite Seals.  I missed the momentous day. No one emailed me with the happy news, I didn't see any rejoicing in the streets, and mainstream TV didn't pre-empt their programming with endless hoopla of giddiness but instead, I guess, simply featured it as their news program lead - I didn't see it. 

After I got back, I did see the President make his speech announcing that the dastardly deed had been done, and the somewhat startling news that Bin Laden's body had been buried at sea, ostensibly to meet the Muslim 24 hour deadline on burial after death, but may speak more to minimizing a fear by our government that it would somehow be contributing to the martyrdom of the Al-Qaida leader if his body was returned from Pakistan.  

What was unusual was the decisiveness with which the President made the decision to bury Osama at sea. This was not a win/win decision for the good of all mankind. This was a decision design to specifically to extinguish the fire in the belly of the Al-Qaida beast. It was a decision that was pondered, considered, weighed and decided on to the satisfaction of our political machine (and to the unhappiness, I'm sure, of our terrorist enemies). Where did this version of our first black President surface from, all of a sudden? 

Isn't this the same President that We relied on to resolve the recession through quality guidance of the government in easing the housing crunch, and failed? The same man who failed to negotiate an enduring energy program to deflower the Emirates' (and Big Oil's) death grip on gas prices? Wasn't this the President who held in his hand the power and might of the US Government to see to it that We had a quality and fair Health Care system and let it get away? Wasn't this the man whom We hoped would follow his own promise to extract our sons and daughters from the Iraq version of our Viet Nam during his first year in office, but instead sucked We into another Viet Nam in Afghanistan?

I was dumbstruck as Seth Meyers summed it all up for me at a recent traditional roast of the President at the Fourth Estate Dinner, when he said "Who is this President who now serves us? It is not the same man as he was before the presidency. Mr. President, you would have liked the Obama who campaigned in '08".


Economy '11

For the 6th straight month, unemployment fell by significant numbers and for the fourth straight month, foreclosures are down, indicating that the economy is indeed trying its best to recover. But still the behemoth of an economic engine seems to be held back by some intangible.  Simply put, the confidence by We the People is not there, yet. 

How is it going to be possible for We to get behind a President and Administration that owns the policy of reducing or eliminating the Middle Class (We the People) in this country? Denial only goes so far, and that is what We are witnessing right now - for all intents and purposes, the element of recovery are in place, but the political climate is not right. Can Obama find some way to connect with We and salvage his Presidency? Ask me next year.


Extinction of the Middle Class

Now, I'm not kidding anyone, nor myself, that anyone actually is taking what I write to heart. The logs indicate that I am being read, but I have no illusion about the importance of what I write. I know that I'm not even a very good writer. But what I am, is a member of the middle class of We the People - but I am afraid not for much longer.

I'm not entirely sure what is going on around me. Actually, I pretty well know what's going on around me, it's just that I don't understand why.

If you stand back and look at what is happening to We during the past, say, 10 years, it is unmistakable. We have been systematically losing our power to reckon for ourselves. It has been subtle, but without question it has been deliberate. 

For a huge part, We have done  it to ourselves. We have believed in the moral good of people, and have elected them to serve We without much in the way of double-checking whether these employees of We have been following our instructions. Unfortunately, We have believed what they have been telling us, that Government is way too difficult for We to understand, and just 'trust them' that they are doing things for the betterment of We.

Can you hear that echo of history? It's the thin-sounding rattling of loose pocket change, not the commanding toll of the Liberty Bell! We have been duped. Arguably, the greatest nation on earth and without argument, the most powerful, is being run by a group of employees of We, with their own agenda - and not one shared by their employer, and definitely not an agenda designed to extend the life of We the middle class.

Why shouldn't We all embrace the vision of a democratic socialized utopia of benevolent Upper class managing a penniless lower class and a missing Middle class? Because it breeds mediocrity. Examine the nations of the world and history that have taken that route (some by chance, some by accident, some by design). These are NOT hot bed of new ideas, NOT the source for creative solutions to the worlds problems, NOT the centers of economic and moral growth, NOT the power centers of the world. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

The serious problem is that some of our employees absolutely believe that they have our best interest at stake, here. That the only way to save WE is to become a socialized society - that ALL decisions come from the top (meaning from the position of power, money and government). These are folks who are oblivious to historical truth. However, if they are right, then this Great Experiment of We the People, has failed.


The Myth of the TeaParty

Long before the Tea Party decided to capitalize on the tide of public unrest, the members of the silent majority were beginning to awake to the fact that their lot in life had been systematically brutalized by a non-responsive employee system of checks and balances that did no more than ensure the perpetuation of the employees and not We the employer. That silent group has been quietly, and without fanfare, gathering about them like-minded folks (a lot of like-minded folks) who remember that the Gov was supposed to be protecting We the People employer, not Them, the employees. The silent We struck a sizable blow to the misguided employee agenda, by resurrecting the "throw the bums out" mentality at the last off-year election. The result was a new crop of untested (but also un-beholding) recruits in congress. The Tea Party wants to take credit for the action.

The Tea Party didn't mobilize We. It was the other way around. And all those employees of We are pleased to see it unfold this way, because the Tea Party is doing more harm than good. The trouble with the Tea Party taking credit, is that the momentum that We created may be jeopardized by the rest of We believing that there is 'someone else' taking care of the problem. There isn't. The Tea Party is toothless without We. The Tea Party is following, not leading. It is therefore incumbent on We to continue to exercise the only control We have left over our employees, the same control any employer has.


The (Vanishing) Middle Class - RIP

We, the People, formed this democratic republic to test the idea that a free enterprise system, with government involvement limited to protecting We as a group in those circumstances where We could not protect ourselves individually, could evolve into an idealistic community safe from overburdening special interest.

For over 200 years it has, more or less worked to the envy of the world. 

All around the world even our most vehement, vocal (and dangerously demonstrative) critics are watching the world unfold before them on their Dish Network driven televisions. If you don't believe me, look at the terrorists footage from CNN. Everywhere there are scenes of dirt poverty homes, families just scratching by, to residences of opulence beyond belief, all with Dish Antennas mounted everywhere!

It was a heck of a risk, this democratic republic test. Think about it, folks would uproot themselves and their families, travel half way around the world to the uncertainties of a land they neither knew or understood to start afresh with little more than a concept to work from as a roadmap. Amazing. Very (very) few of We could generate that kind of courage today.

The result is a country of unprecedented power, wealth and ingenuity. A free system where your rights end at the tip of my nose. Where prosperity has reigned continuously for more than 90% of its years since its declaration from England and monarch rule. Where a free enterprise system (We, the People) left to its own devices launched the Industrial Revolution, beginning with heavy metal products and capping with the miniaturization of electronics and technology to put a man on the moon and bring him back safely. Then We the People launched the Information age where a lifetime of data was poured into different pots, then stirred, boiled and bubbled until enough knowledge was extracted to help We learn from the past so We were not doomed to repeat it, and set our direction for a successful future. Then We shared that technology with the world by launching the World Wide Web (the Internet). What a marvelous country.

But all that is in jeopardy, right now, today as you read this. We, the People, are under direct attack and are about to be fed the green weenie (an old west coast phrase I grew up with that betrays my age). It may, I am afraid, already be too late to reverse the bad thing that is happening to us. I hope not, but I am not too optimistic.

Arthur C Brooks calls it statism (it doesn't even deserve the status of a capital "S"). It is the sincere and fervent belief of some (a lot) of those in positions of power and authority in industry and government. The concept of statism has to do with redistributing some of the assets of the rich to the poor. The concept works, albeit poorly on a lot of levels, in countries around the world (Canada, Germany, etc). 

The fallout, however is that the middle class is eliminated. Yup, completely wiped out. The system does not support nor tolerate the middle class. It has no place in the statism formula for their utopia. 

The sad part is that the Middle Class is where all of the We, the People, Free Enterprise System dynamics does its magic - the magic that has pulled this country from obscurity to the most powerful country in the world. The highly efficient, ingenuity-driven machine that is the Middle class ceases to function under statism. There is no incentive to support or encourage that mighty, hidden dynamo of knowledge and invention. In the statism model, there is no incentive to 'get ahead', in fact independent thinking is penalized. 

Look at our Social Security System - productive folks who work all their lives paying into the system, find themselves in need of some financial help nearing the end of their career and ask for a social security stipend, only to find out that if they continue to be productive, continue to contribute to our Great Society, they will loose the social security help the government dangles in front of them. Many choose to take the sure route and quit work in order to secure their Soc Sec checks from the fed each month. What a waste, bright people being penalized for contributing for the benefit of We, the People. That is statism. But more importantly, the result is another Middle class resident of We, the People, who is forced right out of the Middle Class. Get it?

There are two statism motivating forces at work here against We, the People - Greed and Fear.

There are those in Big Business (most of Big Business) who see the opportunity, while the guard of We, the People, is down (or apathy runs rampant), to consolidate their economic position (i.e. increase their already astronomical profits) by annihilating the Middle class, by annihilating the Small Businesses that feed the Middle Class, who are the only threat to their existence (and their uncontrolled or unregulated profits). That's the fear part: Big Business knows that Small Business, operated, by and large, by a knowledgeable Middle Class, understands every time Big Business oversteps its greed boundary.

Then there is the greed motivation part - simple greed. Big Business is doing this because it can, there is little opposition, because the vast majority of the population has turned inward and are operating, on a day-to-day crisis basis, to protect themselves, and not acting for the good of the bigger community (We, the People). And for the short term it might work to the benefit of Big Business. But it does not make any long-term economic sense.

What happens over the long term? All the new, innovative ideas, all the efficient design, redesign, testing and fine tuning that only small business can do at the owner's expense (with the promise of riches at the end of the new product design/manufacturing/distribution tunnel), goes away. We, the People suffer yet another defeat because yet another member of the Middle Class, the lifeblood of the free enterprise system has just been wiped out. The rich get richer, the poor get poorer because there are even more immigrants from the Middle Class now added to the poor pool.

Nowhere has this statism been more clearly demonstrated than by our government's action, or lack of it, to bring to bear its utterly enormous economic resources to add appropriate corrections to the housing dilemma before it became a crisis. The government was actually ENCOURAGING banks to create poor risk loans to unqualified homeowners at the turn of the century in order to keep the housing market heated. They knew it was overheated and a crash was unavoidable, but by then it would be someone else's problem. Ultimately it became the problem of We, the People. We were fed another green weenie and another round of Middle Class members, who thought that they were living the American Dream, had it turned into the American Nightmare when they were banished to the ranks of the poor. What a way to treat We, the People.

Health Care Reform is another example of statism, that even the government couldn't get right. But, instead, has screwed up so thoroughly that no one is actually going to benefit. Doctors are losing valued, low maintenance patients who pay their bills, health care systems at the state level were completely destroyed by the new program's lack of financial and legal support, congressmen looking like buffoons holding the carcasses of We, the People in their hands, totally unable to make healthy decisions to protect We, and finally an ego at the top, which will be the sole reason that a black man may never again be elected to the Chief Executive's job, at least not in my lifetime. 

A sad commentary for this Grand Experiment that We, the People want so desperately to succeed at.

As a permanent shareholder of We, the People, are you happy with how your employees are handling your company? Are you pleased with the decisions that your CEO is making on your behalf? Does it seem to you that the employees are more interested in robbing We blind, while telling We that the company workings are too complicated for We to understand, and to just 'trust them'? How do you rate our judges, whose job it is to maintain the checks and balances, and protect each of We individually, and collectively as We? 

Is it time for another House Cleaning? There may not be much time left (if any). We have an off-year election coming up in a couple of months. Is it time to start whispering 'throw the bums out" again?

Where the heck are the Leaders that We, the People need, with the vision, confidence and imagination that can propel We back into the age of prosperity, that have the guts to standup to Big Business and reinstate, protect and support the Free Enterprise System, and the Middle Class, for the benefit of We, the People?


Trump

When will the Republican Party figure out that the reason We are supporting the ridiculous antics of Donald Trump is to signal to the GOP that even a Clown is better than the slate of candidates that they are advancing. There is a gigantic disconnect between We and the Party. It would be uproariously funny if it weren't so sad. But all agree that it is terrific entertainment.

What if Trump is elected? I'm going to guess that he is going to eat a huge helping of humble pie and all of a sudden create a moderate face to his Presidency - he is NOT a stupid or reckless man. One thing is for sure, he is a businessman, and beholding to only his own beliefs (which may be very close to the needs of We, even if they are being promoted in less than comfortable manner), and that just has to scare the heck out of congress. Everybody on the Hill is hoping that they can get We to forget the embarrassing past 4 years by scurrying around and passing all sorts of great legislation for the Great Society.

With Trump at the helm, there is going to be a healthy review of pork-belly projects attached to legislation designed to exclusively assist a congressman to be re-elected. This may be an era of record number of Presidential Vetos, which is fine as long as it serves We the People, and puts our employees (congress) in their places (you DO understand that they are supposed to be working for We).

Trump has to be keeping world leaders up at night (Putin, et al) worrying about what this nut case Trump is going to do to upset their own little worlds of greed, hate and tyranny. Fine with me. Nothing wrong with worrying world leaders - our most productive cold war headway came when Ronnie Reagan let slip that We had developed a satellite-based defense system, then continued with the myth until Gorbachev let the Berlin Wall evaporate into history, ultimately ushering in the collapse of the Soviet Union. Actors are good actors, even if they are President.

And Trump is talking about closing the borders "until we can figure this thing out". Maybe temporarily sealing up the sieve that allows illegal aliens to risk life, limb (prison) to move cartel drugs into the US might not be a bad idea. However, the problem is not the illegals transporting drugs into our country, the problem is the members of We who are buying (and selling) these drugs in the US - creating a huge market, making it super profitable and incentivising a simple foreign farm worker to risk his future just to cross the border. There's a lot of lobbying to keep the borders open. Fortunately, there isn't a lot of money behind that lobbying (maybe it's all going to buy drugs!).

So are We going to be able to develop an immigration strategy that will keep the borders open and still be fair to All? Probably, but in what time frame? Will We continue to be the hope of the world's downtrodden that truly need a step up/out of their present situations? We hope so, but it is hard to say. Will We be building a American "Great Wall" to keep the invading immigrant armies out? Probably not something physically imposing, but maybe a virtual one.

Like I said, Trump is neither stupid or reckless. I think it would be a terrific experiment to have a pure businessman in the Oval Office for a term. Who knows, maybe enough folks will worry enough to get the Russians out of the Ukraine, get Iran to cease its nuclear program, and scale back the efforts of the terrorist  individuals taking a bead on the US, when We decide to start going after their families as contributing to their delinquency.


Where Have All Our Teachers Gone?

I don't get it. We, the People, through hard work, perseverance, education, and investment,  became part of the mightiest nation in the World. Now, not so much. What happened?

We had the hardest working, brightest workforce on the planet. Now our youth aspire to sell burgers at McDonalds. Certainly We are better than this. And it is NOT the kids fault! The fault sits squarely on the shoulders of We. Shame on us. Our children deserve a better future and We have failed them.

We have not demanded nor insisted quality education programs from our leaders. Most of We (old folks) would probably vote for education program funding both locally and nationally, if We believed that the programs have actually been design for the good of the great-grandchildren of We.

There is no denying it. Education legislation support has eroded significantly during the past 35 years. That's a long time (that's two full generations of young people who never got the chance to graduate and qualify for college). The bad news is that these are the same folks who are supposed to take care of We in our old age. The killer is that even if We completely turn around our attitudes (and legislation) toward education right now, today, it will be years (YEARS) before We reap any of the benefits for We. What a crying shame.


Why Are We All So Afraid?

Heavens, this Presidential election cycle is holding most folks in a grip of fear that they won't make the right decision and plunge WE into the abyss.

First off, there is no right decision. We are choosing, as We always have, from the lesser of two evils (so to say). This time, though, We have asked for, and received a representative of change.

What We got is as radical a representative of change as the System, that We have fought and died over, may be able to handle. The problem is that We may not be strong enough to tackle that challenge for change.

Pitted against the representative for change is the representative for status quo, for things to remain the same (and probably, for the mistakes to be repeated).

Press polls say that We are split down the middle, with no one really confident that We can survive no matter which candidate wins the election. That's a tough spot for We to be in.

But it was the same fear and separation of Views and Spirit that resulted in Creation of the More Perfect Union that We have evolved from today.

Do Not Be Afraid. The Union will survive. It is NOT an all or nothing election.

If We give the Renaissance Man a try and he cannot produce the stability, security and standard of living that he promises (and that We expect from our employee), then We can fire him. We all know how to do that, if We have to.

If the Status Quo Woman becomes the first Ms. President of We, the employer, and We all learn that We have been lied to again and the middle class continues to erode under the tide of Entitlement Addiction (see below), then We have the option to fire the First Ms. President of this political experiment in democracy.

So We also have to think about who is standing in line to assume the reigns of the Oval Office if We decide that enough is enough! We have been so concentrating on the First Seat, We haven't paid near enough attention to the Second Seat.

The Second Seat warmer, after this election, will materially affect whether We have the courage to fire the First Seat if We are not satisfied that the best interests of We are being tended to. So, for the first time in remembered history, because We are so unsure of our favorite candidates, We have to seriously consider the quality of their running mates. For many, this has made it easier for We to decide on where our vote is going to be cast.

Interesting because on the Elephant-side, the VP nominee is a pretty righteous dude. On the Donkey-side, not so much.

Not surprisingly, there is a strategy by some of We, who have decided to throw their vote to the candidate for President who can least resist Senate and House 'suggestions' (in other words, for the candidate over which the House and Senate can exercise the most control), then at the same time, vote-in Congressional representatives that can hold the line in the best interests of We. Not a bad strategy, all in all, but a bit risky mainly because We don't have that complete a control over Congress as it is. You see what I mean.

The Founding Fathers created a government that was cumbersome and slow moving. That was by design. If something is not right at the top, it may take awhile to generate a consensus, but when that happens, the entire machine moves forward. That protects We from blindsiding decisions that We didn't see coming. Granted, misuse of the Executive Order has negatively impacted the original design of this process, but that too will eventually change. A legacy of Misuse of Presidential Power is not a legacy that We or any President can be proud of.

So, do not be afraid. There is no wrong decision, except to stay at home. Vote as you see it - then stay connected and make your employee toe the line in the Best Interests of We the People.


The Press

As an undisputed Nation of Greatness, We the People, for the second time in History, have elected a non-politician to the Office of President of The United States. Remarkable.

We have befuddle the Press, pollsters and political professionals who were sure that We were going to roll over and play dead for four more years of the same.

As an unexpected by-product, We have found how disconnected the Press is with We folks who they have been attempting to entertain for the past 10 years with their 'unbiased news'.

The Fourth Estate used to be an agency of Sage Third Opinions that We relied upon, during those times when our government didn't have the courage to tell We the truth about The War and wars. While the administration treated We like mushrooms (under a pile of manure and in the dark), the media helped We grow smarter about our country and ourselves and what our employers were doing to Us.

Can't say that now. The Press's obligation now is to render any and every 'news' story into some form of marketable entertainment. They have to convince their audience to tune in so they can sell products and make money for their stockholders (and secure their job). The news hour looks more like a crappy reality tv series (and with about the same measuring-stick accuracy of We). The problem is, they actually believe that the 'news' they provide is a service to We.

Well, they got that wrong. Most of We do not want to use the news half-hour as our escape from reality - there are plenty of shows on tv that can take care of that need - We want to learn what kind of mess We are in so We can fix it. What We get is distractions and lies, interspersed with 300 seconds of why this hemorrhoid cream is better.

The Press has dropped the ball. What a shame. What a demotion from the respectability of the once Internationally admired Fourth Estate. What used to be an admired profession is now complicit in this muddying of the truth for and about We. Shame on We for letting it happen.

But then, when all looks lost, We seem to have a way of adding a little balance to things. The press didn't have the election results anywhere near correct because We decided not to tell them when We were asked in the exit polls. They were left to having to listen to the only ones left talking (politicians and each other). And they began to believe their own stories - even though they were dead wrong. Serves them right.

What's painful to watch is how bad the situation is, demonstrated by how station after station's on-air representatives try to explain away why they were so wrong. See, they want to blame it on some kind of new paradigm, the rules for which only they know about...tune in to news at 11 to find out.

The fact is, We have decided (maybe for the next little while, maybe forever) that We have to find a different source for our News and Truth. The new President is pretty outspoken - after all he has first hand experience regarding the difference between News and Reality television since he has been a party to both! There is no new paradigm, it is the same tried & true one that set We on the right path over and over again through the years - Truth.

The fourth estate has reduced itself to the likes of reality tv and We are trying out New Venues searching for the best form of the Truth. The internet may be the answer, blogs may be the answer, FarceBook or TwiddleDeeDee may be the answer (but probably not in their present forms). Are We on the right path....tune in for news at 11.


The "H" Factor

This has probably been one of the most stressful elections that We the People have had to deal with over the years. It is good that it is over.

But that is only the first step in a series of things that have to happen to turn all this work into a legacy Presidency. Most important is the "H" factor.

The most significant issue for voters is whether 'what We saw is what We got'. Is there a chance that the obnoxious, divisive, annoying, rude, crude candidate personality from the campaign trail is going to be the Personality of the New Presidency.

If yes, We are in for a very long (or very short - depending on who you ask) Presidency.

If, on the other hand, the softening that We saw during the acceptance speech is the ego that We're going to be saying 'Howdy' to on the Friday, January 20 Inaugural, then We will all have won. That would be outstanding. Congratulate yourselves for staying with the Battle of the Monster Campaign (or Campaign Monsters).

What is in play is the 'H' Factor - whether The Donald is going to allow the Office to Humble him before We, or is he going to Humiliate We all (like We've been humiliated before). Humility or Humiliation - We all hope for the best, and fear the worst, but it looks promising that We just might be lucky enough to get the Statesman DT while acting on our behalf.

Wouldn't that be a Hoot!


The Demise of News Media?

It's been two weeks and the only thing the Press can talk about is why Clinton lost. And there is no shortage of excuses from the Clinton camp.

That's interesting, because what it says is that the Trump group is not talking to the Press - just as The Donald alluded would happen after the election. Trump is deciding on who he is going to invite into the inner circle (meaning, invited to news conferences!). Is it possible, that amongst all the other potential benefits to the Trump Presidency, We can add the cleaning house of reality TV News, and make it respectable again? Man, does this have the News Media in a tizzy, since most of these anchors don't know how to report on the news, but rather know only how to report on their own bias of the news. If I was a news reporter I, too, would be worried about my job and my future. After all, almost anyone can read a teleprompter and look intelligent reading newscast text.

So far they haven't gotten it yet. Most of these clowns are still spending all of their time trying to sensationalize the news. The only problem is that they can either talk to the Clintons (which is now career terminus old news), or talk to each other. And there is no better way for reporters to get things wrong that to listen to each other - example: the massive miss on the Clinton election projection win.

So the Popular Press continues to self destruct. The smart reporters have recognized an opportunity to turn the popular press back into the Legitimate Press, and are returning to reporting the news, instead of trying to invent it. Reporting the news instead of becoming part of the news - that might be kinda hard for a reporter who has never done that in his professional career before.

So far, the first loser was CBS with their 60 Minutes interview by Leslie Stahl. I'm going to guess that this was the last 60 Minutes interview that the Trump camp will be doing with CBS. Probably want to think about selling the CBS News stock!


Could This Be A Trend?

Is it just too impossible for We to imagine, or could the successful Presidency of Donald Trump cause a widespread trend to electing businessmen, not professional politicians, to public office? Now that would be one heck of a Legacy for both the President, and for We!

Maybe that's simply too much for We to ask for. Although, isn't that how this experiment in representative democracy got started in the first place over a couple of hundred years ago?

Our Founding Fathers were, without question, businessmen first and politicians (and statesmen) second. That's not all that difficult to understand - middle class america, even before it became America, has always been ripe with entrepreneurs who would march up to the edge and create something out of nothing, to benefit We. It is a marvelous concept that has lost nothing of its value in its evolution over time.

Consider the possibility of electing business powerhouses, who volunteer their time (we couldn't pay them enough) to 'watch the store' for We, who by their very spirit would be more immune to lobbying ($$), and maybe be better able to make decisions in the best long term interest of We, instead of special interests.

It wouldn't make a perfect system, but it would be nice for We to be able to again feel confident that government, for the most part, is watching Our backs. Now there's a novel concept - Government watching out for We!

This is a way better solution than the 'Throw the Bums Out' tactic We earlier employed (with some pretty good solid success). Here, We're going to replace politicians with a group of powerful people who will lobby for Our benefit, instead of in spite of it.

And while Politicians (almost 100% lawyers) create the most convoluted documents (laws) to make them as confusing as possible to We in order to ensure their own value and longevity, Business people try to write the shortest, clearest contracts in order to get them executed as quickly as possible, with the least misunderstanding, so they can move on to solving the next big challenge. Kind of a refreshing way to run government, wouldn't you say?


The World Did Not End!

Did you notice that, even though the most controversial businessman on the planet was elected as the Lead Dog of the USA, that the world did not end, despite some very real fears voiced by some of the most visible (supposed) caretakers of We. Congratulations for Voting. You did your part, no matter who you voted for. There was no right or wrong vote. Let's see how this, admittedly new, direction takes us. There is no doubt that my question from last year has been answered: there, indeed, IS a person left in the government environment that can spark the imagination of the American People. Good for Us!


Entitlement Addiction

Sometime back, I visited a Jack-in-Box, which I do because I am a taco freak, and they are among a few fast food outlets that offer a senior discount (a policy that I wholehearted support). The youngster (they are all youngsters to me now) behind the register commented that he, too, is waiting for some kind of discount for him. I explained that when he has paid his dues (College Student, Military Service, Disabled Veteran, Senior, etc), then he, too, will be eligible for his discount.

That encounter, which served to exemplify how the X-,  Y-, and ME-generations have come to expect something for nothing from our government, caused me to coin the phrase of 'Entitlement Addiction' to describe how our former president and his congressional followers' economic and social strategies have attempted to eliminate Our middleclass and make everyone, except the rich, beholden to the rich and powerful. It is ingenious and insidious.

If this self-destructive thinking was limited to just the minors of our society, it probably wouldn't be so scary. But the truth is, it is that skewed thinking (and expectation) that got We into the Housing Bubble that burst a few years back (hopefully, it doesn't become just another a dim memory). Folks, who should have realized that they simply could not afford the homes they lived in, and ultimately walked away from, ultimately left We holding the bag.

Then during the economic downturn, the time was ripe for the government to step in and offer a mountain of freebies, called entitlements, ostensibly to 'help' the poor, which actually trapped those poor souls in restrictive agreements with the government in order to keep getting the freebies.

If you need public housing instead of living on the streets, the government would help. But you could never take a job that paid you more that a government-defined subsistence level, or you would become ineligible for the housing. Food stamps operate the same way. You make 10 cents more an hour and you lose food stamps which could never be offset by your hourly wage increase (most employers that I know would not be able to offer an employee a $5/hour wage increase, which is the only way for an employee to be able to drop food stamps, or shed housing assistance). How does this promote those of We, who are trapped by this system, raising ourselves up out of poverty. It doesn't for most of the We who are stuck.

It looks like what the economic strategists were counting on is that you would never get out of the addiction, that you will be forever poor, because very few could go from a subsistence level job to a job that paid enough to survive on your own, all in one fell swoop. It is really hard for that to happen, even to very qualified people.

Pretty easy to see that for a lot of folks, this is Entitlement Addiction. Once on, you can never get off - especially if you have a family to feed. It is the worst kind of scam, the kind that prays on the lower income class, the less educated, the most desperate.

And who pays for this addiction of the masses? We the middle class, who have to pay all the bills.

Why would the powers that be want We to be poor as church mice? Because it is easier to control a class of people if they do not have the power. And money is power.

Meanwhile the entitlement programs are turning a vast segment of the Middle Class into new paupers. The entitlement mentality is pervasive, training has been very effective over the years of this, our longest and most trying recession.

The ObamaCare act is yet another glittering 'needle' full of golden promises and freebies that continue to trap a large portion of We the People in poverty for the foreseeable future through Entitlement Addiction. Is this any way to take care of We?

Welfare is now a dirty word, because it now means Entitlement Addiction. It is ruthless, and insanely unfair to the Recipients (We who are supposed to be helped) , and to the Middle Class (We who have to pay the bills).

My guess is that Entitlement Addiction policy on the part of the government is about to change in a huge way.  Politicals won't be able to do it, but a good business leader can certainly straighten out the path to offering true aid to those who need it, with incentives to move up and out, and not remain Addicted to their Entitlement mentality. We wish him the best of luck in that effort.


Doing Away With NAFTA?

Don't count on it - but then it really isn't necessary to throw the baby out with the bathwater (I love these little-remembered old chestnuts!) in order to adjust our Balance of Trade.

We buy (a lot) from China, We sell (a little) to China. The result is that China holds a lot of our cash, and We hold significantly less of China's money. That is called the Balance of Trade. And it is really unbalanced right now.

NAFTA is a trade agreement that says it is ok for a foreign country (or company) to ship stuff to the US and compete with American Made goods directly with no penalty. Walmuck has made a mint doing this. They pay $.05/hour in labor overseas to make product which they import and compete with the same merchandise made in the USA with a labor rate of $7-$15/hr. You didn't have to stay awake for much of your high school math class to recognize that the American made merchandise cannot compete - which means American companies close, which put We people out of work. Yup, We have a lot of cheap products on the shelves at Walmuck, but We have significantly less money to use to buy that merchandise.

Businesses (even those who have shifted their operations offshore) will tell you that NAFTA isn't fair. Why did the companies move offshore if they knew, ultimately, that it wasn't going to be good for We? The answer is Fear. Company Boards have to show a profit in order to keep their jobs and pay dividends to their constituents (their stockholders), or vice versa.

Without question this is business short sighted decision-making. It puts enormous pressure on We to find ways to survive and feed the family. 25% of We no longer have gainful employment. Small Businesses are forced out of business since they cannot compete at Chinese labor prices. Savings go away in a hurry, homes that were once worth a lot, now can hardly be sold to pay the balance of the mortgage on it, much less to provide a nest egg for the future. The American dream was fast evaporating. Overall, We lost faith in our government. The ones who are supposed to be watching our backs, are causing the strategic downfall of the middle class - those who suffer the most through the economic downturn.

Is the problem repairable. Yup, but it will cost. NAFTA doesn't have to be thrown out. The solution is simple and will be done by Executive Order. There will be a VAT (Value Added Tax) attached to every product brought into the USA which compete directly with American Made goods. The idea is to no long make it attractive for USA businesses to move offshore to benefit from the reduced manufacturing costs, then dump their product back into the USA.

But it is going to cost because We are going to have to pay more for these super cheap Chinese (and Mexico) products. But the result is you might be able to keep your USA job making an product in America. And who knows, maybe there is a conscience buried in these offshore American companies that might coax them back into the America fold, creating even more jobs. Might work.

Business leaders say it will definitely work, and prosperity is assured. But the important outcome is the Middle Class may be able to recover, and We will have faith in our leaders again.

How much will VAT increase your cost off the shelf at Walmuck? Hard to say, depends on Greed. Something We have grown used to here in the States. A 25% VAT tax at the wholesale level equates to about a 5% increase at the retail shelf price. Reputable wholesalers will absorb a little of that, the distributor will absorb a little and the retailer will absorb a little. Absorb means that a company will not pass some of the expense to the consumer. That could mean that We might see as little as 3% retail price increase. Not an entirely impossible situation to grow our own economy.

But the Greed factor may offset any goodwill absorbing by companies. And this is where We really have to assert ourselves. If you see a retailer exorbitantly increasing their product price on the shelf, it is time to make it clear to the franchise that you will not be buying from them until they toe the line. A 32% VAT tax at the Wholesale level, does NOT translate to a 25% increase at the retail level!


Teachers and the Minimum Wage Law

In my past life, I was a student. I have lots of years under my belt being on the receiving side of teachers/instructors/mentors/counselors at all levels of our Education System. I have experienced good teachers  and good teaching, and some not so good.

Unfortunately, the teachers in place now, who have weathered the recession-induced flight of others to different professions, are well-meaning, but from the not so good mold. But it is not their fault. They are being asked to do a job that they have not been trained (nor necessarily are inclined) to perform.

Anyone who reads my blog, knows that I believe that We have miserably failed our children over the past 35 years by not making youngsters toe the line, and compete successfully in the Educational System available to each of them (meaning graduating into a good paying job of significance).

Every child in this country can go to school. However, if parents (or grandparents, or aunts, or uncles, or whatever extended family member that is taking care of the youngster) believes that school is irrelevant and a waste of time, then the youngster will also mirror that belief and use it as an excuse to go the lazier route and work at McDoDo's instead of competing for grades in school.

That has happened on a very large scale. Vast numbers of parents (We) have misplaced their faith in the education system put in place to train their charges to be able to fend for themselves when the rest of We are no longer able to. The sweet siren of the $7-$10 per hour paycheck for 30 hours of work for the week (McDooDoo's policy is to only provide 32 hours employment per employee per week so that they do not have to pay for an employee's health insurance, and other benefits) loses its luster when the student (and parent) realizes that there is no growth in that wage - it will never get any bigger.

Some youngsters HAD to go to work, they are the breadwinners of their immediate family. Tragic, but understandable, but far and away not the majority of We students.

And the prevailing scent in congress is that the most recent mandated national minimum wage legislation was, shall we say, a bit overzealous in its award. There is ongoing talk in the White House, that the wage hike might have to be scaled back a bit. The problem is that the minimum wage is supposed to keep We who are subject to it from being screwed by unsavory businesses that want to hold the We, desperate for work - any kind of work - hostage by offering less than minimum wage.

As a safety valve, the Minimum Wage Law was very effective. It lagged the economy a little, but nevertheless, raised the level of consciousness so that, for the most part, businesses self policed wages, and We were served adequately. Then the Entitlement Addiction Donkeys in congress thought that they could really look good and stimulate new business by mandating a HUGE wage increase (if a little is good, a lot is better - honestly).

Of course any economist is going to draw your attention to the fact that the result of such a massive hit on businesses is going to have the opposite effect. Businesses that have managed to balance their labor force against the existing wage levels, when blindsided by the wage increase, did the only thing they could: they let the most desperate We go! They were forced to fire the We that most desperately needed the jobs! They made the smaller staff of employees cover for the labor lost because they simply could not maintain staffing levels and pay them the extra wages. Simple Economics.

So We watched more youngsters trading school for the artificially inflated Dollar Sign, basically throwing away any chance at improving themselves and becoming part of the American Dream, while at the same time forcing unnecessarily large wage increases on small businesses thereby crippling any chance that they can expand the labor force. What fools dreamed this "benefit" for We?

What to do?

My guess is that Executive Order is probably going to scale back the Minimum Wage Mandate a little, enough to drive the national jobless rate down a bit, to show support to We who run small businesses in the country.

But getting youngsters to stay in school falls on only one group - parents, period.

If We, as responsible participants of this Representative Government Experiment, can't see that the proper education of our youth materially affects our immediate future, then We, indeed, have lost a significant leverage for survival as a free nation.

All around the world, families are hocking everything (EVERYTHING) they own in order to send one of their children to the US for the higher education opportunities that We have spent many lifetimes inventing, evolving and fine tuning to create the best of the best in a cross-section of business environments. The percentage of US citizens (that would be We) who are enrolled at the college level, for the first time, is now a minority to foreign born students. Our Educational Institutions are training the best of the best to become the future of the We of some other nation!

All of the inventing, the forward thinking, the design masterpieces will soon be coming from foreign lands. And with that knowledge, comes substantial power - Economic, Social, Political. We may be following the Holy Roman Empire down into the same abyss of obscurity through our apathy towards being good parents and not putting our collective feet down with respect to ensuring our offspring compete and complete some form of higher education.

Our children (no matter what age) need We to push back hard against the built-in laziness that our Government has made into so easy a path for our youth. Our survival as a Leader Nation demands it. If parents (We) don't make it happen, who will? Nobody has our backs on this one. If We don't care, no one else will care.

Our classrooms have become a babysitting service - no wonder teachers are being paid what they are. I live in a state where its teachers (some, not all) walked out demanding more pay recently, citing the great job they did in increasing number of students who scored passing grades on the high school proficiency test administered state-wide.

What they are not saying is that the state board of education reduced the passing grade for the battery of tests by some 20% - meaning that there should have been an automatic 20% increase in the number of  youngsters who took the test battery and scored a passing grade. What's also not said is that the school system is so bad that the increase in the number students passing after the 'fix' never got to 20%! Amazing.

Nine out of every 10 young people that I counsel (THAT IS 90%) do not understand that their high school's function is to teach them the tools to learn - the art of listening, taking good valuable notes, evaluating research on new and unknown variables, risk evaluation & management, determining whether the teaching professional (employee of We), who is in their face day-in and day-out, is competent and passionate enough to be teaching the skills required to leverage knowledge into power.

It is incumbent on each of We to engage our school boards into positive action. They want more money, make it clear that more money comes with a more relevant syllabus. Our School's ONLY function is teach young people HOW to LEARN. How about starting off by explaining THAT very concept to every child (and teacher) in the System?

It is NOT the function of the Education System to teach our children Character, it is OURS.

It is NOT the function of the Education System to teach our youngsters Self-Esteem, that is OUR function.

Somehow, We have shifted the parenting responsibility from We, to our teachers. And while most kids spend more time in the company of teachers (of one sort or another) than with their parents in a given day, teachers have become the defacto parents - saddled with the responsibility of teaching those elements of a child's basic environment to secure as much as is possible the child's well-being, but also for their own survival as well, both as a teaching professional, but also for their own physical well-being in the class room.

What I don't get is that folks think that teachers have some form of super power that allows them to rise above and provide parenting guidance (as well as teaching parenting skills), that the vast majority of parents cannot do with just their own one child, where the teacher is expected to be successful doing the same with a classroom of 30 kids of We. That's ridiculous.

But why do teachers attempt this impossible task? Because a classroom of 30 low self-esteem driven youngsters is a physically and emotionally dangerous class, both to the teacher and the students. It is a matter of survival. If parents won't guide their children through the process of developing good Self-Esteem and Character Building, then the teacher HAS to attempt it - teachers have no choice - except to leave the system. And they do (wouldn't you?).

That is why our teachers are demanding more pay - not because they are doing a bang-up job of teaching the LEARNING experience to their charges (they hardly get that far in the teaching experience), but because they have to be parents, too. And it is darn difficult to be able to do both. Believe me when I say that the general consensus among working high school teachers to maintain their own sanity is "if the parents don't care, neither should we". Shame on We.

Teaching was supposed to be straight forward. Each semester (or whatever time slice is appropriate for your time zone), for an hour a day, a teacher is expected to introduce themselves to 20-30 normal, mentally well adjusted kids, and expose them to their passion for learning of one or another element of our environment. Teachers understand that some kids learn fast, others learn slow, and make adjustments to accommodate these inequities as much as is possible.

But when you throw in to the mix, students who suffer a severe lack of parenting guidance (Self-Esteem, Character, Respect, Motivation and Reservation), the teacher/student relationship changes. Where the teacher wants to share their love of Science or Math or Art, they instead have to deal with youngsters who hurt so bad emotionally, that they are seriously contemplating suicide (or the death of others).

This is not right. It is time for We to take responsibility for the break down of our education system. It is NOT the teachers, administrators, counselors that are at fault, here. However, throwing money at it, while convenient as all get out, will clearly not solve the problem (although it will make We feel better that We are doing something).

Answer this Honestly: do you really believe that it would be better to give up your son or daughter to some government entity to shape their future without your input and nurturing? Of course a thought like this sticks in our craw. but that is EXACTLY WHAT WE ARE DOING. We are leaving the formation of our children's' very essence, their outlook on life, in the hands of a few (surely, well-intentioned) government employees (teachers, administrators, counselors) to mold as they are able, in an environment that is decided NOT conducive to learning.

Shame on We. Our children deserve better. They deserve a parent who cares more about their children than they do about themselves. We need to overcome our fear of failure and settle in to learn (and teach) the elements of Self-Esteem and Character to our charges, the ones who will be making future decisions for themselves and for Us.

Let's face it, Sacrifice is no longer a word in the parent lexicon, if what We observe around We is accurate. The X-, Y- and ME-first generations have crippled the parent/child relationship. The truth of it is that parents with low Self-Esteem, begat children with low Self-Esteem. Parents without Character, begat kids that are more apt to follow. There is a trend here, and it has been going on for years.

So what is the solution? Get rid of the parents and start again? As ridiculous as it sounds, that is exactly what has happened. Parents so caught up in their own problems (and We have seen plenty this past decade) have abrogated their responsibility for raising normal, well-adjusted youngsters to the only group left who cares - teachers.

Yipes! These folks are not paid to be parents, they are paid to be teachers! What are We thinking? Through our inability to place our young people first on our list of priorities, We have abandoned them to develop critical life tools in a system totally unprepared to handle the job.

We (all of us) have to pitch in to turn this boat around before it runs aground. If you are a parent, grandparent, great grandparent, continually push the agenda within your family, that Self Esteem IS important and that Character Counts! Don't let up.

Make everyone in you family recognize that you are an advocate for an internal system that places young peoples' Self-Esteem and Character first. Ultimately allowing the devolution of our existing Education System of "Surrogate-Parenting for Survival" back to a System of "Passionate Teaching". There is hope. But one thing is for sure, We are all in this together.


Republican vs Democrats vs Others

We have been taught over our lifetime that each of We falls into one of three political categories, Republican (All Business, No Heart), Democrats (All Heart, No Business Sense) and Others (mix of No Heart & No Business Sense!).

You know that the Constitution doesn't say anything about parties - it's just names We made up to point out to each that we have differences.

Actually, and I'm sure that you will agree, none of We is a pure Anything - We are all a mixture of political beliefs. In that definition, We are all the same. At the same time, in that same definition, We are all different and unique.

Why point fingers? We all have our strengths and weaknesses. So too the parties. There is no good or evil, no uniquely right or uniquely wrong side. There is no such thing as being uniquely republican or uniquely democrat, We are all (everyone of us)  a mixture.

Pretty Cool, huh?


I think Maxwell Smart had it right.

I was dining with my wife recently and pretty soon realized that the cacophony of serving racket, the 'get down' background mood music (that was putting me in exactly the wrong mood), other guests' conversations and the evitable child's whining (exacerbated by poor parenting - there are no bad kids at restaurants, just bad parents) all bouncing off the newly redecorated easier-to-clean glossy walls and floor tile, caused me to ponder some kind of solution, since it was impossible to hear my wife or for me to make myself understood to her.

I love the KISS concept of keeping things simple and Maxwell Smart got it right with the "Cone of Silence". If you have no idea what I am talking about, may I suggest that you type the name and phrase in your favorite search engine to get a remarkable photo.

You will instantly recognize that Maxwell's tool would no doubt solve many, if not all of the restaurant problems that we were experiencing, and at a ridiculously low cost - no moving parts, simple manufacturing, easily cleaned, repairable, convenient, easy to understand and use, and open to a myriad of enhancements based on whether you are eating at MacDoDo's (bare bones model) or at one of the finer restaurants (add selectable background music/news and select personal sound & light levels). I could go on and on, but you get the idea.

As more of We isolate ourselves with video games, 24 hr Television, and 24 hr Texting, the more the Cone of Silence makes sense. That's a hard point to argue against, since We have so little time to ourselves anymore and We have to make the most of our social entanglements, even if it is a fast lunch or dinner.

Maxwell Smart had it right.


The Wall

I might be able to help the The Donald explain how We can get Mexico to fund the 'Wall' along our southern Border. You see, the problem is twofold, with a single solution.

On the one hand We have a sieve for illegal immigration along our border, and on the other We can't seem to interdict all (or even most) of the drugs crossing our southern Border into the US.

I get it that it is not Mexico's problem, it is our problem. We have encouraged the epidemic drug abuse lifestyle by our total lack of FREE, effective drug rehabilitation and Intervention programs, and the cartels are only feeding the demand created here. It is sad, but it is true.

So We decided to do what We could to stifle the drug supply by outlawing its crossing the Border, then arrest anyone caught carrying. It is silliness of course to presume that the Gov could legislate drug addiction out of our environment. None of We would ever agree that that was even remotely possible, but nevertheless, it is our government's approach.

It is terribly expensive undertaking, and of course a complete failure. Border agents will tell you that they probably catch 10% of all drugs crossing the Border Illegally. And it is nothing for the cartels to produce an extra 10% of product earmarked to recklessly cross as bait to distract Border Agents (and their K-9 compadres) from sniffing out the way bigger shipments. Simple economics.

Seems to me that a much more effective way to manage the amount of drugs crossing the border would to be to shift our Border enforcement personnel resources from trying to stop drugs coming into the US, and instead spend those resources in trapping the drug money crossing the border going the other way.

One thing about drug money, it always smells of drugs to a drug sniffing dog (or air sucking machine you see at the airports nowadays), even if it has been washed.  Another thing about cash, it is hard to hide. There are not many places on your body, or on a vehicle to hide a brick of $100 bills.

Then again, why sniff for drugs, when what you are really wanting is the money - instead sniff for large concentration of dollar bills - way easier. Gosh, maybe the Fed could somehow odorize (or radarize, or holographize, etc) or otherwise electronically tag our circulation  money supply so that a significant concentration of it would register at the Border.

Of course, folks who are traveling legitimately with a large block of currency (maybe a cash realtor, etc) could indicate as such to their bank when they pull the funds from their account, and have the bank register the wad with a national 24/7 database that the Border agent could access in a few seconds on his cell phone (probably wouldn't even have to draw his gun).

So, automatically several things happen to Our benefit. 1) Drugs coming into this country are going to slow materially if the cartels aren't getting their money out of the sales. 2) We don't have to subject our Border agents to drug exposure just because it is part of the job. 3) This is the one that DT will especially like about the plan - every dollar confiscated goes to pay for the Border agents wages AND whatever's left over goes to pay for the 'Wall'. Not to mention all the very excellent vehicles confiscated for the Border agents to use while on duty in the deserts along the Border. Cool huh?


Paint Balls and Immigration and Smuggling

While the Donald is trying to get the 'Wall' built from all the funds his Border agents are going to confiscate (see above), I think that I have a way that We can significantly reduce the trafficking of both drugs and illegals across our southern Border if We implemented a simple (Purple) Paint Ball program. Here how it would work:

We have 2000 miles of southern border. We now have over 2000 Border agents (National Guard at this writing) patrolling its length. So lets get the Fed to buy 500 commercial drones (like the ones UPS thinks it going to use to deliver packages in the future) and outfit each with a Paint Ball Gun loaded with Purple Paint Balls (don't get too far ahead of me, here).

Now We train 500 teams of National Guardsmen (sorry Guardspeople) on the latest flying techniques for drones (by the way, the fastest growing career segment in the World).

Now, We deploy these very excellent drone folks to air conditioned trailers set back along the Border (so they won't get shot at) and patrol its length with their drones, day and night. Each team patrols its own 4 mile length of Border from the trailer. It won't matter to the drone if its water, or desert, or snake-infested swamp, or gator-filled bijou.

Each drone is outfitted with a camera with night vision. When the team identifies someone illegally crossing the Border, the team positions the drone and turns the illegal into a purple illegal. Now try to hitch a ride on one of our highways covered with indelible purple paint. Also, hard to remain inconspicuous in a drug sale when you are Purple. See what I mean?

Of course, the drones are somewhat vulnerable, but even the loss of $200 drone is nothing compared to saving a $100,000 Guardsman from being injured, by either an illegal or a rattlesnake.

My economic suggestion to the rest of We would be to invest in Indelible Ink (Purple) Paint Ball Manufacturing companies. Just sayin'...


Immigrant Kids and Parents

I hate to wade in on current events just to be critical, but We have screwed this one up, but good.

I am a firm believer that if one or more adults in a family want to attempt to cross the US/Mexico border illegally, then they, alone, hold complete responsibility for the outcome, include the potential that they might be separated from their children, if caught. THEY made the decision to break our law, and THEY are responsible.

Under the same circumstances I'm not sure what I would do. But risking my family is probably not high on the list. But then, I do not know what pressures that they are under. In this world climate, THEY make the decision, but THEY hold the responsibility. Simple.

However, once We separate parents and their kids from each other, We become immediately and uniquely responsible for not only the physical and emotional safety of those young people while their parent(s) are stepped through the judicial process, but We are also responsible for the quick and efficient re-uniting of parents/children after the fact.

It seems that We were not paying attention to what Our border agencies were doing on Our behalf with respect to guaranteeing that the separated children were electronically mapped to their parents, such that at any given time, parents and kids can be reunited immediately. It is only Fair - and being Fair is something that We think We have a pretty good handle on.

Not so much this time, unfortunately.

Now I'm not privy to all the problems at the border that these officers have to face each day, but the minute US Officials intervene in a family unit on behalf of We, then at that point We are responsible. We have to do the right thing, We have to serve and protect those innocent young people while their parents are padding through our legal system, if We chose to separate them from each other. We are responsible. Period. PERIOD!

But somehow, for the 3000 young people that have been incarcerated by border agents on Our behalf, the agencies have not been diligent in keeping appropriate records of which kids go with which adults. Amazing. What a screw-up on behalf of We. Shame on them, and shame on Us. We deserve all of the international humiliation aimed at We.

The Fed is trying to convince the courts system that they may need more time to connect the right kids with the right adults. We'll, I get it that it is not as simple as putting all the kids and parents in one room and letting them figure it out - way too much opportunity for bad things to happen to unsuspecting, confused, scared and emotionally unstable young people.

But not to have a fool-proof system in place that can whittle that mayhem down to a manageable task, is a bad reflection on We, not to mention on the border agencies involved, including the Fed. Especially embarrassing for a country which prides itself on respecting Our own fragile family units. Little surprise that the WORLD (both friend and foe alike) reacted negatively to this situation instituted on behalf of We.

The good news (if there can be any in this mess), is that only 101 kids remain in undefined status. Most of the 3000 kids separated from their parents, at this writing, are identified and heading down a path of reuniting with some family member, either with parents at the border (or while in incarceration), or with family members in Mexico or the USA. But that leaves 101 kids that cannot be reconnected to their families because parents can't prove who they are and that their kids are really theirs. Ouch.

The Fed says DNA technology isn't as fast as seen on TV, and that they need more time to close the loop to protect these children. Honestly, there has to be some middle ground such that kids and parents can keep in contact with each other during this process and still protect the young people. It is the right thing to do, and We need to do the right thing.

And yes, DNA technology can be implemented just as fast as we see it on TV (in Days/Hours), it just takes enough noise from We to move it up the Fed's priority list.

And We were doing so well, too........


Bitch Slap Campaign Adv

This is the first time I have been honestly embarrassed by campaign advertisements running on television.

We, here in AZ, have a US Senate race going on in advance of the November General Elections. AZ has a long history of electing strong female politicians to key posts in AZ government (even Governor), and they have, for the most part, performed admirably. A real tribute Women in Government. A trend that has its place in modern times.

But We are having two women vie for the same position in Government here in AZ, who have created campaign advertisements that have reached a disturbing low. To the point that the only way to describe what they do is Bitch-Slap Campaigning.

I don't know if it is just due to the Evolutionary Time in Our politics, or whether it can attributed to the fact that two women are running against each other. No matter the cause, I hate to think that We are about to be represented by either of these two female candidates in Our US Senate after their disgraceful campaign advertisements.

Surprisingly, the Dem Senator won the seat, and our Gov appointed the other woman to the other unfilled Senate seat.


Symphony vs Cacophony

"Democrats think of themselves as an ongoing symphony, while most of We think of them more as a cacophony of noise."


Impeachment

The majority of news media continue to draw their confidence that they have accurately projected, through their 'surveys' (and mainly their discussions with each other), the political tenor of We.

They haven't figured it out yet that the only people who are answering their surveys are the few who talk and think like they do, and the rest of We tell them nothing useful or accurate about what We think or who We support.

Just like in the days leading up to the last election, where the media projected (based on their 'surveys') the election results so wrong that it was embarrassing, the media has We's support of Impeachment also dead wrong.

Too bad, too, because the result will probably be a deeply (and maybe terminally) wounded Democratic party, already in disarray, now bleeding support.

The Democratic party has been duped by the press. The party was assured that they would have the support of We if they pursued the Articles of Impeachment. They found that they did not. Further they found that their Articles couldn't be substantiated. But the power of Pelosi (et al) pressured the lemmings to vote the articles anyway.

Knowing what their support base actually is now, and apparently to keep things out-of-sight and therefore out-of-mind, the Pelosi power trust has decided to put off releasing the Articles to the Senate, hoping that something will eventually come up to help justify this highly unpopular proceeding that she cannot now reverse.

After all, there is another election coming up, and there must be a significant concern that the public record of signatories to the Articles may materially affect who keeps their House jobs, and who will only return to the public's eye when they are asked by the press for a comment by a 'former' congressman.

But rules is rules and the House eventually HAD to release their indictment to the Senate in a timely manner for adjudication. Which went swiftly and uneventfully, exposing the House impeachment proceedings for what it was - a vindictive groundless attack on the duly elected President of the United States.

Now it's going to be interesting to see who manages to hold their Democrat House Seats in November.


National Sales Tax

I'm not sure how smart a move this National Sales Tax is.

For years folks have looked to the internet for buying online at discount.

Early on, Brick and Mortar (storefront) companies complained that the playing field was not level, since online companies could undercut their prices just from the savings in storefront overhead. And, because the law supported the separation of the individual states sales tax jurisdictions, buying online meant folks could also save on the sales tax that local storefront companies had to charge.

The downside of online buying was 1) there was added shipping expense, 2) there was an inherent delay in actually getting to use the purchase since it had to be shipped, and 3) there was a greater potential that the purchase wasn't going to meet the buyers needs since (s)he didn't get to actually see the product until it arrived.

For the most part, these pros and cons seemed finally to settle out, with Storefront and Online companies co-existing (some even reaching over and selling into the other's sales platform).

First the states imposed sales tax requirements on online purchases made and delivered within their state borders (companies' domicile state). Then these individual states went after the national (Delaware) corporations that had offices in their state, forcing them to also collect and distribute local sales tax to the state. These actions pretty much went on uncontested because the States had Enforcement Rights and could close companies down operating within their state if they chose to ignore the state sales tax rules.

For years, because the court supported protection of one state from another state's tax encroachment, collecting and distributing sales tax for products sold into another state was largely ignored, since there was no Federal enforcement across state lines.

Then someone (actually a bunch of state politicians) looking for creative ways to make more money for their states, got their heads together and agreed to see if they could get the courts to agree to waive the jurisdiction boundaries between states when it came to sales tax, they could all reap the benefits of the sales tax revenue they were not getting due to out-of-state online purchasing. The courts recently agreed.

That meant that ALL online companies had to collect and distribute sales tax to the state where the product was being delivered. These states decided to partner with the Online Sales Facilitators (eBay, Amazon, Letgo, Bonanza, Walmart, Offerup, ESTY, New Egg, eCrater, priceline, Mercari, etc), because they all knew that the individual online companies (most of whom are cottage businesses) would pretty much ignore the sales tax collection and distribution from states other than their own.

These Online Sales Facilitators were tasked with the responsibility of Collecting and Distributing. The OSF's were more than eager to participate, since 1) it didn't cost the Facilitator anything and 2) they got to keep the cash collected for the month of reporting and turn it into income revenue (30-day high interest commercial loans). It is done all the time - a way for corporations to make money on the cash that is sitting around on their books. At the end of the month, the Facilitators turned over what was collected to the respective state. All the time, these OSF's were telling We clients that they were doing everything in their power to have this quasi national sales tax quashed. And We believed them!

In order to make the national sales tax work, individual states had to bind themselves to a national agreement, and that took state legislator's approval. To sell that idea to the citizens, all of the states created a sales tax exempt waiver for businesses that did less than $200,000 or 400 sales in their state. the idea was to make the agreement more palatable for small (cottage) businesses. It worked. There are 34 states that have enjoined themselves in this national sales tax agreement.

What's really pissy, here, is that most individual small business sellers never get to the $200,000 minimum for any one state, so they should be exempt from collecting and distributing out-of-state sales tax. But it doesn't work that way. Since these small businesses are selling through a Sales Facilitator (eBay, Amazon, et al), and the Facilitator easily exceeds the state minimums of $200,000 for every state in the agreement, the Facilitator MUST charge sales tax, and that charge is passed to the purchaser.

What a boon to Online Sales Facilitators, getting to use all that extra cash (about 10% of total sales) for 30 days, interest-free!

What a hoax. Made even more maddening by the hint that a pandemic is just around the corner, and that Online purchasing may be the ONLY way to get goods. Sheesh.


Fake News Causing the CoronaVirus-19 Hysteria

I've never been patient about fake news. Fake News is lying to someone if you think it is in your best interest.

We've just escaped a monumental recession from which We hope that the government (and the press) has learned the lesson that fake news is not particularly attractive to most of the voting public. Sadly, it seems not to be the case with the media.

Pandemic is a word used routinely in the description of the strain of coronavirus that recently erupted in Whulan, Hubei, China, and is beginning to spread throughout the world communities, called CoVid-19.

There is a significant and appropriate response to this virus across the globe, since it is a new strain that human immune systems have not had to fight up to now. It is deadly serious to those with compromised immune systems, and not to be taken lightly.

Governments around the world are launching their individual and collective 'traps' to try to minimize the virus's impact on their citizens, with varying degrees of success. The US government is just now mobilizing its plan as the disease has hit its shores.

Additionally, taking the lead from the World Health Organization (WHO), US commercial entities are coming up with their own plans, mainly to protect their employees, but also the general public, by implementing programs and policies that they hope will minimize the social spread of the CoVid-19. Any (all) plans that attempt this goal is welcome and prudent - no matter how effective.

The media has found their latest money-making crisis. What the press still hasn't figured out yet is that fake news has no place in this country, and especially when the country is facing a perceived crisis. Crying 'fire' in a theater when there is none,  is against the law, and is morally bankrupt.

The problem isn't the reporting (everybody is getting their info from the same source, the Center for Disease Control - CDC), the problem is the lack of balance in the reporting.

If you believe the news broadcasts, CoVid-19 has the potential to KILL everyone. It simply is not true. The vast majority of folks who contract the CoVid-19 virus will experience mild flu symptoms (maybe a dry cough, maybe an elevated temperature, maybe a shortness of breath - typical flu symptoms, you will feel crappy for a couple of days). 

What is also true is that all of our Gov and Commercial programs are aimed at isolating those who contract the virus away from everyone else, including the VULNERABLE population, those with compromised immune systems,  and Seniors with Cardiovascular disease, Respiratory disease, and Diabetes, where CoVid-19 has shown itself to be extremely dangerous.

The press wants you to believe that the world is coming to an end! News at 10pm. The result is that many (MANY) Americans believe that CoVid-19 is terminal to anyone who contracts it. MANY Americans believe that We will be quarantined for months on end waiting for an antidote. Where is the balanced reporting that says 'No' to the hysteria, and attempts to calm the community down? There isn't any, because that's not how newspapers are sold, that's not the way to get commercial advertising seen (and further subsidizing news broadcasts).

The truism that the media believes is that if news is not entertaining, you will not watch their program, you will not buy their newspaper. They still think that a news story has to be controversial or, in this, case Crisis-based to attract viewers. Nope, they got it wrong, they did not learn. And in the process of distributing exaggerated and unbalanced reporting, they are solely responsible for the mass-hysteria that has engulfed our nation.

If you need more perspective, let me explain: Since Jan 2020 (that's just in the last 4 months), there have been 3 MILLION cases of Flu in the USA. Of those, 10 THOUSAND deaths have occurred, again during the first four months of this year in the USA (directly from the CDC)! Where is the outrage over all those deaths?

There isn't any because it is not entertaining news. It would be balanced reporting to say "Yes, this is a serious virus, but mostly to those with compromised immune systems, the rest will probably feel like We got a cold." Done. Nope, not sexy enough for the media - there is not enough incentive for you to tune into their broadcast of news/advertising, or so the media thinks. It is unbalanced news reporting, Fake News.

The significant down side is that the mass-hysteria that has ensued is materially affecting our nation's economy, as folks stop their regular purchasing patterns, and instead clean out the local Walmart of every roll of toilet paper that the company can stock on their shelves (Costco has rationed their toilet paper sales). I can't even buy rubber gloves at Harbor Freight that I use to work on my car! It is as if We are watching an episode of Twilight Zone (Do-Do-Do-Do, Do-Do-Do-Do).

Don't get me wrong, the Fed and Business are correct to implement plans to minimize the impact of the virus on compromised citizens, but that DOESN'T mean we're all going to die! Shame on the Fed for not recognizing that We aren't getting the whole story from the media, when the whole story would probably have a calming effect on the populace.

The jury is still out on whether congress is thinking clearly when passing the CoVid-19 Bill to the President for signature. A Bill ripe for fraud when mandating that employees be given paid time off and paid extended leave if they encounter CoVid-19 in their family or acquaints. 

Do-Do-Do-Do, Do-Do-Do-Do.


Co-Vid-19 Congressional Action

I am reminded of government policy several years ago on how the Forest Service was mandated to handle forest fires - namely put every darned one out before it did any damage.

Several years later, the fed realized that the policy was flat wrong. Now the Forest Service pretty much lets nature take its course and spends it time and money on protecting just the vulnerable areas.

Looks to me like the fed should be paying more attention to its last mistakes, and treat this CoVid-19 crisis more like a forest fire - let nature take its course (we are all going to be exposed to the CoVis-19 virus eventually, and some of We will come down with the flu) and spend all that time and money protecting the vulnerable of our population. Trying to keep everyone from coming in contact with the virus is foolhardy.

All indications are that the result of being infected with CoVid-19 is the same as for a cold or flu. You feel bad for a couple of days and, boom, you are back at work. Meanwhile your immune system and the immune systems of healthy people around you are stronger for it. Kinda like our forests.


CoVid - DO NOT PANIC!

Folks, This is NOT the end of the world. Do not misconstrue what the government is doing to protect the economy as an indication of the seriousness of the virus to each of We individually. The Fed is trying to make sure that all of We do not get the virus at the SAME TIME, thus causing massive impact to companies that need a viable workforce and a huge negative impact in pretty much all segments of Our economy, including health care systems.

It is true that, maybe, our Govt wasn't as quick as it should have been in responding to this attack on Our economic well-being, but nevertheless, they DID react, and with what seemed to be proper reservation and precision.

As I wrote before, there were two ways to handle the virus attack on Our citizens. One way was to let nature take its course. There would be a humongous Spike in Flu symptoms reported to the CDC.  During that time, 80% of We would be infected (which means We would be exposed to the virus, that's it). Of that 80%, 20% of We would exhibit flu symptoms (like a cold - most mild, some more serious).

The worst of We would end up participating in a (significant) 'Flu-Out' for a couple of days as We stay at home taking in chicken soup from our kitchens, and Judge Judy from our TVs. We would all be get better and be back at work sooner rather than later. The economy would take a hit all at once, and then it would be over. It would be painful, but not deadly to our economy. No new trillion $ aid program would be necessary - the already in-place sick leave reimbursement policies of US companies could handle the 'Flu-out' without serious impact on the national economy.

The other way to handle the virus attack, is to mitigate (or slow down) how fast everyone is exposed to the disease, in such a way as to control (as much as is humanly possible) the impact on the economy. Meaning, trying to keep as many people as possible working, and push off until a little later (or stagger) when the rest of We get the disease and have to stay at home. It's know as Flattening out the Spike. The risk is that the confidence in the economy might wane anyway. There's a chance that the spread will be more active than predicted, to the point that the Fed would have to step in to do things to try to further control the Big Three (politics, economy, health). There never has been a similar action in the modern era from which We could reasonably deduce how well (or poorly) things might go.

The Fed absolutely recognized that a component to either plan HAS to be the protection of the most vulnerable of We with compromised immune systems (those over 60 years old in poor health, or those with history of heart disease, respiratory disease, diabetes, etc) who would be at significantly higher risk for severe complications (including death). 

Either plan has its merits, so the question for the Fed to answer is "Which is best for Our economy: 1) A lot of discomfort for the Big Three (political, economic, health) compressed into a very short time - the Big Spike Theory, or 2) a smaller impact on the Big three, but spread out over weeks/months - the Flattening Spike Theory?".

As you know, the Fed chose option 2, at first, urging the nation to minimize contact with each other, ramp up personal hygiene, then implementing more severe measures in an attempt to flatten the Spike of infection.

Unfortunately, the Fed got both: the Big Spike materialized AND it will be spread out over considerable time, due to the economic impact of We being urged by the Fed (and reinforced at the State level) to stay at home and not go to Our jobs.

Then the Fed responded the only way it knows how, and that is to throw money at the problem in the form of a $3 trillion (fully one-half of the national budget) assistance package for Americans most impacted by being out of work.

I'd hate to think that the Fed made the decision to take the ill-fated plan #2 because it was politically more expedient. That would be a shame.

There IS a light at the end of the tunnel (and it is NOT another train coming at Us): Looking at the CDC.com (Center for Disease Control - the Guru) near the bottom of the CoVid-19 page, show that the number of CoVid-19 reported cases this year (Jan-April) is at 213,000 (that is tested positive with or without showing flu symptoms).

To put this into perspective, the CDC also reports that the number of common FLU cases (ie. showing serious flu symptoms) for the same period of time is about 3 MILLION. This puts the CoVid-19 at less than 7% of total flu cases that We are experiencing. Meaning that 93% of all flu symptom cases in the USA is NOT due to CoVid-19!

If this is all news to you, then you understand that what newspapers and cable news are doing is Fake News. You deserve the whole perspective both from your news source AND from your president.

I usually like to write something witty and humorous, here, to offset the sad news, but I'm out of gas. Suffice it to write that at least the president and congress are responding to the plight of We without poking each other in the eye in the process.

So, DON'T PANIC. Paying attention to the unprecedented spread of the CoVid-19 virus is important, but it is NOT the deadly scourge of the earth - it is NOT the plague. In the grand scheme of things, this is going to be just another blip on the radar of Our personal lives.


The CoVid Myths

Myth #1: We are all going to be sick for weeks from being infected by the CoVid virus.

Nope, MOST folks won't even know that they have been infected. Symptoms are sore throat, dry cough, elevated temperature, shortness of breath that last a couple of days. These symptoms indicate that your body is generating the necessary antigens to neutralize the virus. Once the symptoms are gone, the antibodies stay in your system.

Myth #2: People are DYING from CoVid-19 virus.

NOBODY DIES FROM THE COVID-19 VIRUS! People die from pre-existing condition(s), complicated by making their immune systems also fight the CoVid virus (building the antigens) at the same time. But those complications could be caused by ANY virus.

Myth #3: CoVid-19 is the first virus to completely invade the world's population.

CoVid-19 is no different any other new virus that invades the world population periodically. It's just that, because of improved technology, We are better able to report the number of infections this time around. Which is scaring the heck out of people who are not aware of all the other new viruses that We have dealt with in the recent past (ie. the SAR & MERS viruses, and others). And because it is new, it takes time (14 days more or less) for our bodies to develop the antigens that react to, and neutralize the CoVid virus.

Myth #4: CoVid-19 is spread ONLY through Social Contact.

CoVid-19, like most viruses, are airborne distributed but lose their effectiveness in air within seconds, so represent only a small risk to our bodies right now. Eventually, there will be enough people coughing and sneezing and spitting and peeing into the air, that the risk will grow from inhaling the infected air - but no more risk than from other viruses that are present in our air right now (and there are scads of them).

Socially contracting the virus is what this Social Distancing dance mandated by the Fed (for economic reasons - see above) is trying to minimize. Social Contact distribution means viruses riding on water droplets from someone's mouth (a sneeze or cough or spit) that somehow, directly or indirectly, end up in your mucus membrane system (your eyes, nose, mouth, etc). This is the most direct and, currently, the most significant distribution mechanism.

Either way, Social or Airborne infection, your immune system recognizes the virus for what it is (a foreign agent in your body), and immediately starts to generate appropriate antibodies to surround the virus and render it neutralized.

If your immune system is robust (MOST folks are), you won't even notice this firefight going on in your body.

If you are already sick (you have a cold, or the flu, etc) you will pay a price for your immune system to have to also fight the CoVid virus - you will develop a dry cough, sore throat, elevated temperature, maybe even shortness of breath. All indicating that your immune system has a lot to handle in your body. It will last a couple of days, symptoms will give way so you start to feel normal as your body develops the new antigens to neutralize the virus invasion.

If you're over 60 years old, and in poor health, your body may need additional help getting your immune system to fight the virus - contact your medical advisor.

However, if you have underlying disease(s) like heart disease, diabetes, or repertory disease, you are in a VULNERABLE group at SIGNIFICANT HIGH RISK from any new virus (like CoVid-19) that invades your body. You MUST seek medical attention, you MUST protect yourself from infection, you MUST isolate yourself from any chance of infection, because you have a way HIGH RISK of becoming one of the casualties of the CoVid-19 national (world) experience - that is, dying from complications brought on my being CoVid-19 infected.

Myth #5: CoVid-19 Virus is alive (like germs) and replicates out in the open.

CoVid-19, like most viruses, is not alive, and does not replicate out in the open. The virus itself will be rendered ineffective out in open air within a few seconds. The virus, however, CAN remain active (potent) while resting on some warm (not hot), moist (not wet) host, like a liquid droplet from an uncovered cough or sneeze or spit. That droplet can be airborne, or resting on a surface through which you can become infected by contact with your mucus membrane system (fingers rubbing eyes). Which is why sanitizing yourself and surrounding surfaces is a good way to minimize the distribution of the virus.

The virus relies on being inside a human host in order to replicate. It's complicated, but researchers say that the virus messes with our body's proteins at the cell level and ultimately causing our body to replicate the virus into our bloodstream until our own antigens neutralize the virus. Until the antigens kick in, We are contagious and should minimize how much of the virus We should expel into the air (through covering our coughs, sneezes with a mask, or spitting into a tissue and throwing it away, etc). Wear a mask, learn how to handle a mask, learn how to clean/discard a mask. Don't perpetuate the distribution through ignorance.

Myth #6: Uninfected, healthy people should wear masks to protect themselves.

As indicated in a prior entry in this blog, N95 (and other) masks are effective at blocking agents of about 5 microns in size. Droplets from coughing, sneezing etc, are about 7 microns in diameter. CoVid19 virus components measure about 3 microns, so a mask will not be effective at stopping the virus in air (3 micron), but pretty effective at trapping a sneeze droplet with a virus attached (7 micron). Hence, masks are best worn by folks who HAVE the virus to trap what they cough, sneeze and breath out, but not so effective protection for those who are healthy.


Maxwell Smart Revisited

Back to Maxwell Smart's gift to humanity (see above), I was struck that had his Cone of Silence been implemented by restaurants sometime back when I first suggested it, I'm guessing that there would have been no need to close restaurants down because of the CoVid virus panic - the C of S could be easily modified to have it's own filtered air supply system for its users, and which could automatically self-sanitized between guests, while maintaining the requisite 2m separation.

I think Maxwell had it right.


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