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Friday, July 4, 2014

I am an American - a re-re-print. Happy 4th of July!

A reprint of a post I have now used every July 4th since 2009. I actually have requests for this one. If you like - please pass the link on. If not - hey, it is a free country!

I am an American. Like the majority of those living in this country, I was born here as were my parents and their parents. Like the great majority of those living in this country, my ancestors were not born here. A direct decendent on my paternal side immigrated here in 1789 from England. However, I am not an English-American or even a European-American. It bothers me to see people described (by self or others) as Irish-American, African-American, Asian-American, or any other hyphenated American. Hyphens do nothing but separate us from what we truly are: Americans. 

Like my father and his father before him; I speak English. In the not so distant past, every immigrant that came to this country learned to speak English. It was a point of pride for them to master one of the most difficult of languages. Since this was (and is marginally still) an English speaking country it was expected and usually accomplished relatively quickly. Expectation and hard work made it so. To immigrate to this country was, and is, a desire that burns brightly in the hearts of people worldwide. However, it seems now that it is expected by some that we should welcome their "diversity" in language and culture at the expense of our own. Merriam-Webster defines diversity as: 

1: the condition of being diverse : variety ; especially : the inclusion of diverse people (as people of different races or cultures) in a group or organization.

Inclusion does not mean domination or extinction. One could make the argument that diversity by its very definition requires the original to remain as a part of the whole. 

As I said above, my ancestors immigrated here. They came by accepted means and according to the laws of the land. It makes me very angry when I see the illegal aliens in this country called an "immigration" problem. I have said before - calling the illegal alien issue an immigration problem is like calling bank robbery a withdrawal problem. We have a very serious and growing problem in this country of providing and maintaining social services for our citizens. When these services are offered to and overwhelmed by illegals, it makes the problem that much greater. We must address the problem of illegals in our country. It is one of the defined constitutional responsibilties of our government to secure our borders. The government has failed at that responsibility. Amnesty is not the answer when solving a bank theft spree. Nor is it the answer to our illegal alien problem. People must be required to follow the laws of the land when it comes to becoming a citizen. We also must stop now in providing social services and any medical care beyond that which is needed to save a life to illegals. 

The United States of America has a great heritage in its two hundred and thirty plus year history of offering freedom, liberty, protection, defense, and support of all kinds to the people of the world. A large portion of the world owes any freedoms and liberties it has to the armed forces and the diplomatic minions of the U.S.A. Americans have helped to free and rebuild Europe twice. We have helped free those behind the Iron Curtain. Most recently we have brought the light of freedom to the Middle East. American might has not been used for building an empire. We freed these countries and turned them back over to the indiginous people, while providing the funds necessary for rebuilding. It sickens me to see and hear cries of "Imperialism" from detractors of the U.S. That claim is ridiculous when history is reviewed. The U.S. has won in battle or by diplomacy; Japan, Germany, Italy, France, the Philippines, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Grenada, Panama, and more. Did we add them to our country? No, they were all returned to their people who in some cases still decided the U.S.A. was the evil empire.

The United States of America is a beacon of freedom and light for all the world. We offer support, hope, and ideals of life that are envied by a large portion of the world.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Make it illegal!

I am constantly amazed at the clamor for new laws regulating and/or "preventing" activities that are running contrary to political correctness or just not compatible with polite societies. Unfortunately, laws do not solve anything. Lawlessness and disregard for societal boundaries are the problem. The old pro-gun statement of "make guns illegal and only criminals will have guns" is true. It works for almost anything. Remember Prohibition? The war on drugs? How about something simple like texting and driving? All are or were illegal. None were ever prevented. 

Gun control is something that is very well legally boxed in. There are thousands of gun laws on the books. We do have a large gallimaufry of overlapping, obsolete, and active gun laws. Enforcement and application of these laws is not always performed adequately, but why do we think more laws would help that? I am a firm believer in the intent and meaning of the second amendment in providing a Constitutional right for all adult members of our population to own a gun. I also have no problem with background checks, if administered fairly and with some haste. I have no problem in a ban on ownership of automatic weaponry (which contrary to popular opinion IS illegal). However, no number of gun control laws will ever prevent the senseless violence that occurs with too much frequency. People willing to kill someone are not worried about what laws they break. 
The problem is that laws and rules do not work on people that are hell-bent on hedonism and self-gratification. I am not speaking in religious terms here now but a return to the rule of law. Respect for others and their property is primary and tantamount to improving and/or preventing senseless acts.
So, we can pass laws against:
guns, drugs, speeding, texting while driving, driving without a license, hunting certain animals, polluting the air or water, driving too fast, drinking and driving, smoking in most places, etc. and we still have all these issues facing us - maybe even more so.
People obey laws and rules because they feel it is in their best interest to do so. It keeps our tentative "community" intact. (if you ever want to know how close we are to total anarchy, visit a major intersection when the power is off for more than 10 minutes) No amount of new legislation will change this.

Saturday, May 31, 2014



We've all fought so many battles
We tend to count the ones we lost.
Trying to build upon our failures
Never adding up the cost.

The big ones seem to be remembered
Fallen soldiers tossed aside.
Forgetting all the minor battles
We should be counting up with pride.

Good days adding to the memories
And the bad days taking toll.
We need to light our way from darkness
Live our lives, not just play a role.

Happiness sure can be elusive
Especially the perfect kind.
We've got to grab onto the goodness
And capture it in our mind.


Sunday, May 11, 2014

You Look Fine To Me (a follow up to "You Don't Look Right!" - kinda)

I actually got a few comments via email on the post about the Supreme Court and their ruling on affirmative action. In case you do not follow this blog or keep up with the Supremes and their rulings - late last month they ruled that affirmative action (the conscious process of admissions where candidates are admitted to a school based on race/ethnicity vs qualifications, for the purpose of diversity) was not constitutional. I agreed with the ruling. I am not going to repeat my words - look back a few posts.

On race relations, bigotry, and discrimination I have an observation. Any of you that have kids and allow them to play freely at a public park know this. I just got back from an afternoon out with two of my grandchildren. A girl 8 1/2, and a boy 6. After a gourmet meal at McDonald's we went to a city park with a playground that was nearby. There were four or five children that were already there when we got there, playing on the slides, see-saw, swings, etc. These kids were of various ages - I would guess 4 to 11. They were also of various colors. So after my grandchildren joined in there were black, white, and brown children playing together. My comment is this - I, and the other parents/grandparents there were the only ones that noticed that fact. To my grandkids and the others, there were just kids; all there to have a good time. After thirty seconds or so they were all playing together, pushing each other on swings, joining in on the see-saw, playing tag, etc. and intermingling between all those activities with total abandon. Another five or six children of various ages arrived while we were there.

After several minutes of playing, one little black girl saw the swings were empty. She said "Let's go swing!". When no one responded, she went up to my grandson (about her size, if not her age) and said "Let's go swing!". When he did not respond (he was in a serious see-saw mode), she grabbed his hand and said "Come on friend, let's swing!". She nor my grandson had any inkling of color or race. They were "friends" playing together - even after a few minutes. I watched all the kids closely after that. There was an obvious familial connection between some of them and that showed. Other than that "bias" (and that was mostly shown in who to aggravate first) there was no acknowledgement of anything other than the common goal of fun. The scene made me think of how adults would have done it. I will admit that in this day and age race/ethnicity would not have prevented most adults from interacting in a group. Working/playing together works with adults to a degree as well. But, there is always a sense of tribe that exists, at least to me. There is not the abandonment of color that occurs with children.

I wonder if the generation of my grandchildren will be able to hold onto this color blindness? One thing that will help greatly is the fact that racial lines are blurring so much. I myself now belong to a racially mixed family that would have shocked if not offended generations before. I have a black son-in-law, a black niece and nephew, and a mixed race grandson. I would do anything I could for any of them. In fact, except in this context, they are not my "black" relatives. They are just my family.

The other thing that quickly changing the outlook of race is the mixed race marriages. As I said above, I have a daughter that is in one. The number of "brown" people of mixed heritage is growing by leaps and bounds. If you have people at your Thanksgiving table of all colors how can you draw color lines? Plus, if a generation or two down you are a child of mixed parents that were from mixed parents, how can you be prejudiced? Unfortunately, I am sure there will be a percentage that will find a way. However, I am convinced it will be a small number.

The other issue is the business of race. I am convinced that the Jesse Jacksons and Al Sharptons of the world, along with the NAACP and KKK types of organizations will continue to look at color/ethnicity as long as possible. Their livelihood and existence requires it. However, if the masses refuse to give them credence and credibility, it will not matter.

We can hope.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

You don't look right!

If you ask almost any adult in the United States if a person should be denied something due to the color of their skin (their race in case you don't follow), they would say emphatically "No!". Yesterday the Supreme Court of the United States made a ruling that helps keep this from happening. However, the civil rights "leaders" are and will continue to present this decision as "racist and bigoted".

The ruling and case I am referring to is the Michigan affirmative action ruling. Very basically it was to rule if a college can use affirmative action (discrimination) to enroll more minorities. The Supremes said "No". You cannot exclude a qualified candidate for the color of their skin. Affirmative action is nothing more than racism sanctioned by the government. Two wrongs do not make a right. Discrimination is just that, even if it is used for "good" purposes.

To exclude a more qualified applicant to increase minority participation is wrong, period. Think about it rationally. The Supremes got it right.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Heaven is painted orange

I wanted to do a post to ask you all to help me with a farewell to a friend - John D Colbert. John's life is being celebrated today by family and friends from far and wide. John passed away suddenly Tuesday March 18th at the young age of 54. John was a hard working, hard playing man that loved his work and family. He was a loving son, husband, father, and grandfather; as well a a good friend to all that wished it. John was particularly good to me in offering an ear when my wife died in 2011 and in many subsequent conversations. I know he loved his family greatly because in those discussions he made it very clear. I know he loved his work because I worked beside him on many occasions.

Please take a moment to offer thoughts, prayers, and wishes of peace and solace to his wife Deb, daughter Amy, grandson Andrew, brother Bert, and sister Maggie and any of the other multitude that will miss him.

Oh, if you find yourself coming upon a sporting event (especially football) and the Tennessee Volunteers are playing anyone but "your" team" - root them on. John bled orange with the best of them.

RIP John. You will be missed!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

And another thing...

This is one that has be "a-brewin'" in by feeble mind for a while. I wanted to address the idea of income inequality and opportunity. (not exactly right, but I am at a loss of words - read on and see)

First, your lessons for the day - there are many posts on this site which cover this, so look around if you don't understand or want more -

 1) There is no government money. If you have questions on this point, I have many posts here where I expound upon this thought. Just suffice it to say that ultimately all money comes from the public (you and me).

2) Corporations and businesses do not and cannot pay taxes. Same comment here - lots of posts explaining this. Bottom line - only people pay taxes. Businesses just get the taxes by raising prices on their customers (you and me again).

3) Term limits are critical to any meaningful changes to be made in our government. This includes the bureaucracy that exists today in Washington that holds a lot of the real power.

Now for the post:
There are news reports and stories quite often now talking about how the income inequality, especially in the U.S.A., is "the worst it has ever been"; or something similar. I just wanted to weigh in on this and say "BS"! Income inequality is, has been, and probably always will be a part of the human condition. In fact, I am willing to say that the time we live in is probably close to the best that income equality has ever been. Are there a small number of people that hold a LARGE portion of wealth? Yes! No doubt. But, that is as it always was. Do you not think that in the U.S.A. in 1860 that there was not greater inequality? Approximately 14% of the population were slaves! They essentially had ZERO wealth. Do you not think that during Egyptian times of the Pharaohs there was not greater inequality?  It is estimated that 10 - 15% of the population was either a slave or an indentured servant. Again, their wealth was close to ZERO. The Roman empire is estimated to have had as many as 30% of the population living in slavery. Add another 10% as indentured servitude and you can see our times look pretty darn good.

The U.S.A. does not have the worst, or even a particularly bad (as compared to the rest of the world) income inequality. There is tremendous disparity between the top earners and the lowest. But, on average, our "poor" are well-off compared to the rest of the world. Do the top .01% of income earners here make a lot compared to the rest of the population? Yes. But although the CEOs make a lot, a large portion of this is skewed higher due to entertainers and pro athletes. For the record, I too think that CEO pay has gotten ridiculous over the past couple of decades. I also feel that the pay for entertainers and pro athletes has as well. However, I do not feel that I or any other person has the knowledge, perspective, or wisdom to decide what the "correct" pay should be. When the government or some other appointed body starts deciding correct incomes for any class or employees we have a serious problem. The market should decide. FYI, that is why the minimum wage is wrong, and a very bad thing for the free market. An employee should be able to accept or deny any wage they are offered by any legitimate employer. If I, as a business owner, can hire a cashier for $5 an hour, that should be fine. If it takes $20 an hour to get a suitable employee, that too is fine. But, that is another subject.

The "worst" income inequality since the Civil War in the U.S.A was from approximately 1903 to the crash of 1929. The disparity between the lowest and the highest wealth was much greater than it is now. In fact, until the late 90s, there was no comparison. We have had some widening of the spread, but it is still less than it was then. The Great Depression did a lot to "equalize" things as did the "Great Recession" of recent memory. The stock market and housing booms have contributed greatly to the other side (more inequality). CEO pay is tied to the stock market in a lot of cases, so it is understandable that that would be the case.

Bottom-line - it would be great if we could equalize things out. However, as I said above - I do not think we humans have the ability or wisdom to do so. In no small measure because of the following.

The other issue I wanted to tackle is the one of "fairness". We also hear and read many reports and comments about how our society is not fair. I am not blind nor naive, I understand that discrimination, bias, and bigotry exist and are part of our society. I also recognize that they have gotten tremendously better in my lifetime. I also understand that although I tend strongly towards Libertarianism and small government, that regulations and laws have helped in this regard. If a business hires a person of a certain race and/or ethnicity due to a law, that they might not have done, it is still a good thing. I concede this fact. I do however feel that a lot of the racism and/or racial divide that exists today does so because of regulations and laws. For example, why should my race matter when reporting anything to the government. Government and laws should be gender, race, ethnicity, creed, and sexual orientation neutral. However, race is one of the first bits of information asked for in almost every transaction.

The real problem as I see it today is one of understanding. The general population does not seem to understand the difference in equality of opportunity and equality of outcome. Neither can be guaranteed 100%. The former can be to an extent, and should be as much as is humanly possible. The latter can never be in any reasonable and fair manner. The U.S.A. offers as good of a offer of equality of opportunity as there is in the world. That is proven day in and day out as new entrepreneurs, businesses, and even millionaires are made. These successful people are all colors, creeds, nationalities, and any other label we can lay on people. However, they flourish while others languish. 

The biggest indicator of success would seem to be effort and hard work. Guaranteeing equality of outcome is not really possible because of this. Now, I am not saying that all hard work is rewarded with riches and/or success. I am saying that most successful and/or wealthy people have worked hard to be there. They have set goals and worked towards them. They have educated themselves and put themselves in position to succeed. That also does not mean that some people in good circumstances aren't put there by nature of their birth or inheritance. However, even most familial fortunes were originally earned by hard work and/or revolutionary ideas. Not all, I understand, don't shoot them messenger. 

The problem with trying to achieve equality of outcome is it marginalizes and de-emphasizes effort and hard work. Most people that are driven at all have worked with someone that is a slacker. (if you cannot remember one - you may be that slacker) A co-worker that is always taking breaks, late for work, standing or sitting around, asking for help doing their work, etc. Is it fair that this employee would be paid and/or promoted the same as someone that is always on-time, works hard, takes initiative, etc? Most would say no. That is why we cannot guarantee equality of outcome.

This has been a bit long. I know from my past long posts they don't get read as often as the others. If you are reading this, you made it to the end. If you skimmed it, go back and read it. Comments are welcomed along with discussion.

Monday, January 13, 2014

My Suggestions - Part 2

Before we get started let's do the lessons - (again)
1) There is no government money. If you have questions on this point, I have many posts here where I expound upon this thought. Just suffice it to say that ultimately all money comes from the public (you and me).

2) Corporations and businesses do not and cannot pay taxes. Same comment here - lots of posts explaining this. Bottom line - only people pay taxes. Businesses just get the taxes by raising prices on their customers (you and me again).

3) Term limits are critical to any meaningful changes to be made in our government. This includes the bureaucracy that exists today in Washington that holds a lot of the real power.

In Part 1 I had two suggestions:
1. I suggested that we raise the voting age to 21. To encapsulate it succinctly - I cannot believe that any sane person thinks it takes more maturity to decide to drink an alcoholic beverage than to decide who will govern us.

2. I also suggested we consolidate and/or eliminate many government departments and cabinet positions. Note: I did not suggest we eliminate any programs (that is coming), just departments and management of said departments. More details can be found in the previous post. Thoughts and comments are welcomed.

Now for the new stuff -

3) I would raise the maximum income for the cutoff of Social Security contributions. I would either make it like the Medicare tax and have no cap or take it dramatically higher than it is now ($117,000). To help out lower income folks I would cut the rate from 6.2% (it is actually 12.4% with half from the employee and half from the employer) to 5%. I would also means test for any Social Security payout. I know the arguments - "I paid in! It is my money!. They are valid. But since Social Security has morphed into something it was not designed to be - a retirement plan (WHAAAT!! You say?!? I was not a retirement plan? No. In fact it was presented as a small government stipend to help the less fortunate survive old age among other things. But, that is another subject) If a person does not need Social Security income they should not get it. I know "does not need " is relative and I do not claim to have the wisdom to tell you at what level exactly it would not be needed. But, I know there are people receiving Social Security payments every month that could do very well without the checks. Everyone knows Social Security is a train wreck waiting to happen. No one has the cajones to do anything about it. We must do something or it will disappear or bankrupt us.

4) Still staying with Social Security, I would move to privatize (or partially privatize) the funds. Maybe start with anyone under 50 (or make it voluntary for anyone over 45 - whatever is decided). At some point everyone would have at least a portion of their Social Security withholding invested in stocks and/or bonds. I know the uproar that occurs here - "Why expose our retirees to the volatility of the market? What if this had already occurred in 2008!? FYI, the last time I checked the stock market had NEVER had any ten year period that was down. If reinvestment of dividends is required that would insure so. This would require a lot of work so that the immense amount of money flowing into the market would not disrupt things or go to scam artists (including politicians!). If we work on it, it could be done. If this had been done for my generation in the 70s I would have no issues with retirement on my Social Security. It would be a fortune.

5) I would eliminate baseline budgeting. I would guess most of you don't even know what this one is. Baseline budgeting is how our government computes spending. The amount of tax revenue coming in and the spending taking place is extrapolated and computed considering the inflation rate (and anticipated inflation rate for future periods) and population growth (or anticipated population growth for future periods). If we are spending a billion dollars today on a program that is being budgeted going forward and it is thought inflation would be 3% per year with a 1% population growth rate per year, then in the tenth year we would be budgeting to spend $1,437 billion - almost 44% more. Now in Washington speak - that would be a flat, no growth budget. It doesn't matter if inflation was less (or more), or if the population was flat or went down (or up). If someone suggested that we only spend $1.2 billion (a 20% increase over the start number) that would be seen as a 16.5% CUT! FYI, all the "cuts" that the Republicans have suggested were not actually cuts to anything. They were cuts in the proposed increases in spending! Each department/program should be required to justify any funds allocated every year. If my idea from #2 in Part 1 was taken up, combined with this approach we would save trillions over a decade!

I will stop now. Please comment. Part 1 comments welcomed as well. As always, all comments will be published as long as they meet civility criteria.