Friday, December 12, 2008

The road to hell is paved with good intentions

There is little doubt that most politicians and most voting citizens are sincere in their thoughts about all the financial mess we are in.

What is most alarming, and suggestive that the worst is yet to come, is the fact that most of what our federal politicians are doing is being paid for with borrowed money. There is much to suggest this decades long era of borrowing to finance good intentions will come to an end, and then we will have to pay as we go. Less one doubts this possibility; remember as recently as World War Two we had to have war bond drives to get Americans to loan enough to finance this war. Then the politicians will have to earn their pay, like earlier times when priorities were set, public policy practiced, and we had to live within our means. And our means are quite considerable.

Too much of our present borrowed monies now come from overseas, so now there are foreign considerations.

Most Americans have bought into the ideas of helping our less well off. That much of this was financed with borrowed monies and increased tax incomes was seldom spoken about by all our politicians, whether at the federal, state, county, city, or school board levels. Thank goodness, some of these entities are better off, and hats off to those fellow Americans with more foresight in financing their entity, and planning for a rainy day.

It is alarming that even the Social Security and Medicare funds the federal government has collected for decades have been raided as another source of monies. Now what is to happen?

What is also galling is that many hard working Americans are being dragged down in the financial mess we are in. Now they are sharing in the hard times. Will anyone tell them thank you for all they have supported in the past.

We Americans went through a War of Independence, a revolutionary war. One often cited reason by those who made up the resistance was taxation without representation. Now the federal politicians are doing that to our future American citizens, and dragging them down most likely. Now many of these future generations might rather default on what their ancestors have done since they did not get a vote.

And at many local levels many politicians are already giving priorities to providing job programs at the expense of basic government functions like police and fire protection, waste water treatment, pothole maintenance, and real public school education that benefits our children. Only the people’s votes can change these priorities it seems.

One’s thoughts on all this mess we are in often has to do with when do we bite the bullet, as in the auto manufacturing discussion going on today. Too many are talking past each other, and not even mentioning the question and timing of when we do bite the bullet. Now this is a voter issue.

And the voting American citizens who are the beneficiaries of all these good intentions may predominate in the votes at all levels. But predomination will not change what happens when others will no longer loan the USA monies to finance all these well intentioned benefits.

What is a shame is that many good American providers are being dragged down with the less well off beneficiaries.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The rise of a new National Party is well underway

“Vital” national interests are starting to be discussed in earnest. That is the way politics used to be.

One’s political persuasion has little to do with what is important to our survival and way of life. Frustration and cynicism seems to abound, but our families and personal security in all aspects always trumps. Quality of life can mean many things to many citizens, but simple and basic things life a job, food, heat, public health safety, and common infrastructure that benefits all citizens seems to be vital to most of us. The War on Poverty in the USA is of interest to our national psyche, but not vital to most citizens. And the two national parties have had long periods to work their magic and ways, but decades of their influence has seemingly made things worse. It is fair to say the courses of action they chose, and the time frames they chose, are not the only choices they and we had. For example, we have chosen to borrow vast sums of money to pay all the present bills that exceeded our tax incomes. And at the state, county, and city levels we have made many promises to our fellow citizens in government unions that all too often depend on rising property and sales taxes in perpetuity. Even all the social security and Medicare monies that we have been paying for decades have already been spent on today’s and yesterday’s bills. Is that what we wanted? Is that what we expected? And do we expect other people will continue to loan us money to help pay all our bills. There was a time in the past when no one in their right mind would loan the USA money, and we even had to have War Fund Drives to solicit loans from our citizens to fight World War II. For those who legitimately think that the loan status quo will continue in perpetuity, can they imagine if we can’t get the loans which have been so automatic in the past. Perhaps we will have to “time phase” our spending as in postpone certain spending interests in favor of “vital” spending interests today? What seems shameful is that we may not be able to wean ourselves off of borrowing until the time comes that we cannot borrow, and then another “crisis” will be upon us.

Our country has had two national parties in charge for many decades. And there is nothing in our Constitution that requires the present status quo of two national parties. Parties like the Whigs have come and gone in our past, and it can happen again. We have laws against bribery, but seem to tolerate similar things with lobbyists and the two national parties, today. We even amended our Constitution to put terms limits on those serving as President. We can do the same for those in Congress, if we choose.

Term limits for Congress, and the promotion of “vital” national interests can be the start of a new national party. Controlling “have nots” voting themselves benefits from the “haves” can be the basis of a new national party. Developing new public policies that emphasize growing national wealth before spending national wealth seems obvious to many. And America is oozing with leaders and leadership; some already serving as elected officials from the two present national parties, and others being forced into a new way of doing things and away from the two national parties. In any case, we have other alternatives to the present situation in the USA, and we are still in charge as long as we vote.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The road to hell is paved with good intentions

In the end, being warm this winter, and being able to cook and eat, will trump all other factors. Security counts a lot, too. Security is things like police and fire protection, clean water, sanitation, health safety, 3R’s schools …the basics.

In early June this year, a round trip air ticket from Atlanta to Managua was around $708. One fellow did it by car for $600 in gas, plus $900 in bribes. Decades of “good intentions” by voters, their politicians, and their bureaucrats have the USA on the same path. Is that what we wanted, and expected? Bitter discussion and rancor seems to change little of people’s minds. Will it come down to freezing, starving, wild west type crime, and paying bribes to get the basics in order to make a point.

Much has been published about the young moving in with old, but how about the old social security of big families and the old moving in with the young, and entire families sharing large old people medical bills. Is this what the voters wanted and expected?

What happens when governments can no longer borrow money as a course of action to pay all the promised benefits? What happens when governments, city, county, state, and federal have to pay their way or default on obligations. What happens when all our safety nets get saturated by all the guarantees come due, and the voters finally figure out they are left holding the bag, even when they work all 12 months of the year to just pay city, county, state, and federal taxes?

One thing seems likely. The two national parties that led us into this mess over decades will be replaced, as they should be. Now is a good time for voters to think about what they want and expect for their future politicians and bureaucrats.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

The End of the World as We Know It

The status quo is dead. Long live the status quo.

Not too long ago, many thought the Soviet Union would go on. Many think the two USA national parties will go on because they have in the last many decades. But the status quo is no guarantee of future existence. Satisfying the peoples’ needs is a better indicator, and if the status quo doesn’t solve the problems, then the people will find a better way out of necessity. Yes, people will be selfish, especially when it comes to having security, a job, having food, and being warm enough in the winter to live. The burden is especially harsh on those with children.

Our national personality includes the most altruistic and noble instincts to help our fellow Americans. This has been expressed federally as programs like social security and Medicare, and at the state and local levels (county, city, and school system) by extending good pay and benefits to fellow Americans who serve in these governments. Americans have for decades supported all this to include the ideas of tolerating crime against individuals while addressing the underlying causes, and increasing our expectations that results should happen sooner rather than later.

One trend is the degree to which we Americans have turned to borrowing to finance our altruistic nature; the obvious alternatives being raising our federal and state and local taxes to preclude borrowing, or to pay for what we can afford in pursuit of our altruistic ideals. Either way, the status quo will change when borrowing comes to an end of its own weight; that is no one will loan our federal government money, as has happened in our past and been increasingly forecast for our future, and we have to pay, lower our goals and implementation schedules, or increase taxes. Our states and county and local governments will also be affected similarly, probably more so due to greater dependencies on property and sales taxes. Borrowing for them using the bond method will be tougher.

The status quo as we know it is changing right in front of us. All the passionately held opinions and talk and cynicism means much less than people losing security, jobs they want , food, and heat during cold weather. And the USA will be affected by the World as others who go without cooking oil, food, and heat choose war or emmigration to solve their problems. And the USA will be further affected as some our various governments choose employee jobs and benefits over basic services to the people, more taxes to pay for it all, or ever less effective efforts to borrow money to pay for it all.

The future status quo has many optimistic trends emerging. Time phasing as a way to implement our altruistic goals is becoming more obvious. Doing many things on multiple fronts vice one thing now is becoming obvious and necessary. Promoting our New World persona over our Old World legacies is becoming more entrenched. Royalty and nepotism are simply un-American values. Knowing disease and symptoms are different is an American value. Emotions and passion will fall by the wayside and the basics like security, jobs, food, and forced air heat are recognized as privileges as compared to rights; and public policy and laws will recognize this via the fellow Americans we elect at all levels of government. Some might perceive this as slowing things down, while others might perceive this as doing things smarter and more realistically.

The status quo will change. And no amount of talk, good intentions, passion, or cynicism can change that.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

If American communities are running out of money to pay for basic government services, then something is wrong.

Basic government services are things like electricity on demand, clean tap water, managed waste water treatment, police and fire services, infrastructure maintenance and improvements, public schools, and basic health services like malaria control and polio vaccines and food safety. When one looks at budgets at the city and county and state levels, it is obvious we Americans are generating vast amounts of public tax monies, yet so many of these same governments are having to also borrow to make ends meet given their local priorities and situations. Some of these services are privately run like electricity and infrastructure maintenance, with "government" regulation. And yet there is also a rising budget competition between basic government services and legal obligations to meet the very expensive obligations due to government union employees, mostly in retirements and medical benefits.

This rising problem is new in the last two decades, not universal as some cities, counties, and states have done better than others. Many fellow Americans have much to brag about. They've done well to date.

How and why did this ever come to pass? And why are studies to date so suspect; though some more trustworthy ones suggest two things. One is that property taxes, a major source of income for many city, county, and state governments is suffering from the loss of property wealth of 6 trillion dollars from the recent mortgage problems. Less property wealth means less property tax income for these governments. While the impacts are most likely a year downstream or more, some adverse effects are already appearing in Birmingham, AL, New Jersey, and California (the State and even the wonderful city of Vallejo). Second is a study suggesting about ¼ of Americans want to continue on the present courses of action, while ¾ worry about how to pay for all this largesse as if the band might not play on forever. The ability to borrow is not automatic, and a time may come when others may not loan us money without conditions we cannot accept. This is nothing new, as in WWII we had to have War Bond Drives to promote loaning. Moodys, the loan rating company, has already given us a window of closing of 2017 or so for this old status quo to end. And with less and less Americans actually paying taxes to finance all that has gone on (we are down to 28% taxpayers by one study), we are approaching a time when we may give a tax, and nobody comes. Less this seem silly, one can note that former very liberal (as in spending our taxpayer monies) Ohio Senator and self-made millionaire Metzenbaum moved his estate to Florida from Ohio to save on income taxes and death taxes. More tricky is the fine print applied to so many of our cities, counties, and state governments. That bankruptcy is an option may leave many citizens "holding the bag" of higher taxes (expenses) and lower services, as in no firemen when needed, or being shot on the local neighborhood street while walking the dog.

One obvious solution and “the something is wrong” go hand in hand. Those who wish for all Americans to live like old world royalty only need focus on the basics, and enhancing the quality and method of delivery of services, while living within ones’ means. Said another way, there are other courses of action (from what has gone on) and methods that suggest it is imperative to recognize the common good, what is good for it, and voting for politicians working in this direction. Many would call it a “boiler plate” for how to advance the common peoples' quality of life while living within ones’ means. Techniques such as time phasing and willingness to try and fail are as old as the hills, but seldom mentioned these days. Now that is something wrong. The wrong may be in priorities, techniques, weak standards, and our bad run of having poor national party leaders, and losers wanting to be in charge, and who want to have it all, now and at any expense.

Monday, May 05, 2008

The split in the road is the voters choice

Many decades ago America
approached a split in the road. We are still on that path we chose. However one chooses to judge that choice in hindsight, good, bad, or indifferent, the present state of affairs is on purpose. It is not by accident. We are, again, approaching another split in the road we are on. While we cannot reverse history, we certainly can influence our future history by the choice we make in the coming split in the road we are on. Our influence is called our vote.

An example might amplify this idea of choices and our future. We chose in our past to enhance our under classes by spending vast amount of monies on addressing underlying causes. Part of this choice was giving a main effort to addressing these underlying causes, while living with and accepting the effects of the low life criminals from this underclass, as in the murders and such other crimes committed on us and our children were considered secondary. We were expected to take the results like lemmings, and keep our mouths shut like good Americans. Performance based results fell by the wayside compared to bragging about how much money was being spent. That there were other courses of action, to include funding and borrowing, to reach the same goal was suppressed, in general.

The present state of affairs, and the general mess we are in, suggests a new split in the road is appearing. Admittedly, the future vision to the present driver is fuzzy, foggy, and somewhat blind. After all, the status quo is still alive, well, confident, and forceful. The present status quo is still about the two national parties, gaining tactical advantages in the coming elections by all the usual means, and continuing on the present course chosen long ago. The fuzzy future alternative choice appearing out of the road fog is one of national interests' first, living within our means, and holding people to standards we will establish. For example, there should be shame about having a child out of wedlock. After all, the idea is about the baby, not the Mom and Dad who should know better. And the parents and grandparents should pay, not we citizens. The burden should be on the immediate family, and not society. In such an example, those on this road include our religious leaders.

The voters might keep all this in mind. The changes will be understanding there are other courses of action, and our willingness to assert our selves in these other courses of action. After all, winners reinforce success, not failure.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

America’s descent into third world standards has some advantages

As public policy multiculturalism is a disaster. The American melting pot idea is so human as to be obvious to most at home, and both the old world and the rest of the new world. Practicing vital national interests is a normal policy to most, and now that we have been led indirectly into this policy, we can reap the benefits. Even labels for the census and other USA government bureaucracies are silly, and our politicians have mandated this silliness. Many personally would resent be labeled a European-American as they are an American, pure and simple. Even Latino or Hispanic or African American are silly.

Good, bad, or indifferent, the USA has been withdrawing for decades, and now more than ever has to take what ever is served. There is a silver lining in this grey cloud.

On energy policy, let the nations that depend so heavily on middle east oil devote their national resources to protecting their interests. The USA is not one of these, and let us not enable them as allies to use our USA people and military to protect their citizens and interests. Let them step up to the plate, so to speak. For those that object to this idea, fine. But we have been degrading ourselves for decades, and now have to live this idea.

On foreign policy, we are more and more forced into organizing or joining coalitions of common interests to have our way, and compromising along the way. How to deal with the present North Korean dictatorship is a good example. The same can apply to Syria and Zimbabwe and resurgent pirates. Will we honor our treaty obligations to Israel and Taiwan allies?

On domestic policy, the financing of all the city, county, state, and federal programs is approaching collapse in the USA, as by 2017 to use a Moody’s forecast. Many third world countries depend on foreign aid and many think much goes to the despots that run these nation-states and some city-states. It appears much the same is going on in the USA, though by different means. And our present poor leaders are still on this course, unbelievably. When we start being thrifty and acting in vital national interests will be a breath of fresh air, even as many fellow Americans suffer from loss of benefits. It is not that the politicians at this future time want to be mean or perform payback, it is just that more was promised than can be paid for. Blame the present generation, even the “greatest” generation.

Most environmentalists survive only in the west. They would never survive in the third world, as be assassinated. Even if their ideas (often good from a western point of view) apply to the third world, the savvy environmentalist does not want to die for their cause. Hence the Americans are leaving Okinawa and going to Guam for the sake of a “maybe” issue about salt water manatees. What is amazing is that all this has been through the very severe Japanese wickets (it is their land and people after all), but wacko USA environmentalists have turned to USA courts. To conclude, as America reverts to a more third world status, tolerance and protection for environmentalists will decline. People starving for environmentalists’ ideas have little tolerance. This especially applies if the environmentalist is unelected.

And in the third world, many politicians with limited means tend to promote the middle class over the lower classes. When push comes to shove, expect the same here. Holding people accountable to established standards will probably have many beneficial results. If we elect politicians and indirectly religious leaders that promote sex through marriage, for example, we may be surprised, and even thanked. Those that attack our vast drug culture in the future will also be surprised, as a little toke is so different from making meth in the kitchen at home. Maybe some Thai court rulings, applied American third world style, will get some peoples attention as to what is good public policy.

Monday, April 21, 2008

The best and the brightest should be individuals and not cabals

In the not too distant past there was a dilemma at a 23,000 acre quail plantation in the Southeast USA. Many whitetail deer educated people said we had too many deer and needed to kill about a thousand does to get things back in balance. Yet there were paying customers (to the tune of about one-half million dollars a year) who paid much and traveled far, and reported they were not seeing much of any deer compared to the past, and subsequently quit paying and traveling to this plantation. The owners did listen, and convened a conference of whitetail deer educated experts to advise on what to do. Here was where many learned the politics of whitetail deer biology. Depending on one’s connections and expected outcomes, there were cabals of PhD’s on this subject at Clemson, Auburn, and the University of Georgia. The latter was chosen, and we got some good advice, and how things sorted out in the end is unknown for this post. These eco type things take time.

This story of cabals, connections, and expected outcomes applies to those staff members hired to work at all levels of government and even media, since even pundits often have hired staffs. So when you read about a new law or program, or a pundit’s article, it probably is done by a staff member or members as the main effort. And the federal government types, executive, legislative, and judiciary, seem to have a preference for Ivy League School cabals. Whether this is good or bad is in the eye of the beholder, but the present system smells of poor government and leadership, where experience should count more than it does these days. The preference for intelligence and education seems to trump experience these days. One can note that political party tactics and strategies include dominating even the questions that can be asked. This is another symptom of the light-weights from certain cabals being in control.

Exacerbating all this is the mean spirited atmosphere and politics of personal destruction in Washington, D.C. that drives so many of our best and brightest from even applying. One present joke line about “can we get the adults back in charge” is a symptom of what has been happening for more than a decade.

To get the best and brightest political leaders, and hired staffs, depends mostly on voters. To expect the present volunteer candidates from both national parties to undermine their status quo and many decades of comfort factors is unreasonable. More reasonable is to vote in Americans to make things happen in 2008, 2010, and 2012, and subsequent elections. Like the whitetail deer story, these things take time to have an effect.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Freedom of speech is not defined by any individual

All the rancorous discussion about freedom of speech is new in the last decade or so. That such rancor and terrible statements are being made reflects poorly on our American society. The poorness may be because of the poor education of the offenders, or the dominance of ego and emotion over self-restraint and respect for improving our society. In other words, the method of political discourse is as important as the ideas debated, and some seem to have lost this so new world American idea.

The silly part is to hear, again and again, that one should not object to any individual or groups conduct or rules because they are using their free speech rights. The classic friction of individual rights compared to group rights comes up, again. If taken to an extreme, which seems to be the route we are on today in the USA, then we have a formula for inaction and anarchy.

This possibility has always been around. Even our far ancestors adopted the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 to ensure order trumped chaos. Even in the last century it was taken as gospel that one cannot use the free speech idea to cry fire in a theater. There are group imposed limits as well as individual imposed limits to maintain American good order and discipline. Now it appears things are getting out of hand again, and some knee-jerk reaction will be what it takes to bring things back into balance. If this comes to pass, is it the offenders or offendees that are the catalyst for the most obvious need to maintain an orderly society?

A key point is that the free speech advocates seem to need to be checked. If checking them means some new version of a 1798 law, or more recent campaign finance laws or hate speech laws, well that is where they are leading. Maybe all will it take is prosecuting the laws we already have on this subject, (since the problem is not new). What a shame, because it does not have to end up like this. As in many other cases in America today, it is time for adults to step in and take charge.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Much change is going on in plain view…though seldom reported or recognized

More people are devoted to an individual vice a constitution than ever before. This smacks of old world nobility, even if so un-American.

More politicians and their parties have loyalties that trump National Interests. The change is the degree, where ideas and lobbyist purposes other than National Interests have more influence than even three decades ago.

The rise of nobility type groups composed of today’s soothsayers and jokesters called pollsters, environmentalists, and pundits is appalling. In an older time in America, all had to enter the world of politics and elections. Now more than ever, many get hired as a staff member or sponsored as a court member to weave one’s version of entertainment mixed with policy, along with job security and income.

Another appalling change is that political managers of former and losing political campaigns of the past are now trotted out as experts on how to manage and win. Some even get rehired. The major change is gall of all this, and the silliness of even considering them, and their loser records.

Yes, much change is in the air. And much of that change is the end of the old status quo and poor leaders and managers that got us to the poor state we are in today.

We all know that talk is cheap, and alarmist claims are as old as history. We also know that change does occur, often gradually, and sometimes in lurches. We appear to be at a “lurch” time now. The seemingly ever growing influences of environmentalists and their agendas is now being balanced by companies going out of business and people going cold and hungry, or our overseas opponents defeating us with vastly increased oil prices. As one Brit pundit suggested, toleration of these eco types is no longer funny or quaint when people are being adversely affected. Food riots around the world will always trump western idealism that causes food shortages.

So are we in charge of change, or is change in charge of us. Does it take companies and people going out of business and world food riots to make change happen? Or can the power of elected ideas make change happen before people lose? To depend on today’s version of the political groups and their candidates to implement change is just how we got to where we are today.

We Americans have better alternatives and ways to change than what has been happening and can happen in our future.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

America’s priorities for the next fifty years will have much to do with everything

Think upper classes, middle classes, and lower classes. Think enemies, foreign and domestic. Think local vs. state vs. federal. Even think affordability vs. desirability when prioritizing, assuming we can’t have it all when we want it.

America has had an idealistic and well-intended love affair with the lower classes during the last fifty years. Many efforts and dollars have been devoted to helping this group along, to include such venerable institutions as the Catholic churches and their schools. America has had a fifty year effort to promote federalism as a well-intended effort to make one size fit all, and to make us “one” country. The interstate highway system is a good example. The Cold War and the onset of the nuclear age set policies, laws, and budgets for fifty years that made sense when applied by those devising such things. Earlier more local accomplishments like clean water, waste water treatment, public electricity, levees, and basic health like malaria control and vaccinations, paled in comparison during the last fifty years, being already done deals. Last, America’s historical personality that tends towards isolationism and pacifisms reasserted itself, again.

We Americans are never stuck in the past, though some of our people and politicians may be. The status quo can have a bad connotation. “For lack of knowing what to do, we do what we know” is a limiter to future priorities. And time does move on and drive things, thank goodness. For an example's sake, a circa 1908 problem about what to do with all the animal waste resulting from transportation in cities was a big health and political deal. Now we have other problems.

In the present election cycle of 2008, and the immediate ones in 2010 and 2012, one can use perspective in deciding their votes, local, state, and federal. For example, one scheme should give priority to promoting, protecting, and growing our middle classes, as opposed to the lower classes as a priority. The same scheme should protect and promote all the local things that may have become politically boring. For sure control of local schools and curriculums should return to the parents to include enhancing their responsibilities as parents of school age children. Out of wedlock births should be ostracized for what they are, irresponsible sexually promiscuous behavior, to include unsafe sex given the terrible SDT numbers today. The same future scheme should recognize and reward integrity and honesty as good guides in how to run and promote a society. Political tactics and parsed words and pandered budget gimmicks all too often work in the short term, while the long term society suffers or demands even more band aids on top of earlier band aids.

The list can go on, but the point is that America is never stuck in the past, and the last fifty years of past should be no bind on our next fifty year future. Absent the present volunteer candidates for federal president even mentioning this type of discussion, and the present system still promotes this silliness (locally, state, and federal), then it is time to find, promote, and protect, other candidates that give more emphasis to devising and leading to our National future, and not our past.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Environmentalists gone wild…free falling clams

For those who just got screwed by all the commercial airplane inspections that delayed their travel, read the first part of this link. And I thought all the added expenses to the ticket prices were all fuel related.
There are no bad workers…only bad leaders

No body wakes up in the morning wanting to do a bad job. Most people want the dignity and respect of hard work, even if they are somewhat slovenly and lazy. And yes, we do have low life criminals who must be locked up to protect us from them.

Presidential candidate Obama Barrack seems especially good at exposing American wounds to the light of day, and even ripping scabs that exacerbates the pain. Many wish he could also heal the wounds, but alas, he is too lightweight.

And the wounds still fester. Most embarrassing is that some of these wounds are self-inflicted, as in we did it to ourselves. More defiantly, we and our politicians did it to ourselves. And in this can also be a solution. The subject is free trade.

Most rural Americans I know (Cumberland Plateau, Tennessee) still believe in free trade. Of course the definition of free trade is “free trade”. As an example, most negotiated treaties require our free trade competitor humans to go by the same rules as we have to go by, to include worker rights, safety, environmental, and even things like insurance. Then one thinks like the greater cost of American workers is better balanced by the cost of transportation of their lower cost competitors products to the USA, and there is “fair” trade. Many Japanese and German auto companies have relocated their manufacturing to the rural USA as one example of how they handled the balance in their way.

The aggravation I perceive is the loss of trust and faith in the ability of our governments to hold our free trade partners’ feet to the fire. Words mean things, and the problems on the other end of free trade agreements are their problems, and not so for weak-kneed American bureaucrats who may have other agendas. And all so many American workers want to do is get up in the morning and go to work, and do a good job.

Here is another good example for why we should vote.
Defining a vital national interest and how to try achieve a vital national interest are two different things

For example, educating the next generation is a vital national interest. Just how we try do it, public education, private education, vouchers, curriculums, is a local and state voting issue. For another example, providing for a common defense is a vital national interest. Just how thrifty and smart we are about doing it, and even the areas of concern, like foreign terrorists or Darfur, are a voting issue. For a last example, providing for basic police and fire protection, and basic health protection like clean water and waste water treatment is a vital national interest. Just how we fund it in competition with all the other local demands is a votable issue.

Yet seldom, if ever, do any candidates standing for election at all levels, local, state, and federal, even bother to discuss or offer for debate just what is a vital national interest in any of the communities we live in. It is as if we put the cart before the horse, and all too often the issues get confused as to prioritizing all the competing demands. And so many of the competing demands cross the lines of vital national interests expressed at the various levels, local, state, and federal. For example, and assuming we have to get out of the borrowing business to pay our public bills, do we spend money on an expanded water treatment plant in our local community, or use the same money to send our military into Darfur? Using the idea of being guided by vital national interests, the answer is obvious…spend the money on the expanded water treatment plant.

Especially confusing to most voters is federal grants to states and local governments. Just why this is a vital national interest has never been answered by politicians or even pundits. It’s history suggests it was born from other reasons. If the federal government collects enough money to pass a lot back to states and local governments, then it is collecting too much to redistribute in ideas that may not be in our vital national interests. If this money being spent as block grants is in our vital national interests, then let the states and local governments justify the taxes and the local voters vote on it.

One can go on and on in this simple idea of having vital national interests influencing how we tax and spend. One point is if times get hard, or bad, we have other courses of action than the mess we have today.

And never assume anything. That we live in a new world nation-state that still has the traditions and means to think of vital national interests as a guide is special in the world. Others are not so fortunate.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Anus of the Earth may be in Shanghai

Which way is the human condition to work out?

Is it this picture from downtown Shanghai during the recent USS Lassen visit in 2008 representative?

Or is it the more touristy picture (below) what we may see during the Olympics in 2008?

The idea is that the amount of pollution in China is bad. In this case Shanghai is a really big city (8th biggest in the world?), and at the terminus of the Yangtze River, and the last decades or so pollution is worthy of report.

So which way is it to be? Is the Chinese government and propaganda and maybe even NBC promoting their Olympics’ contract to give us one picture? Or is to be more like the recent USS Lassen picture showing what an unhealthy place Shanghai and the Yangtze River have become.

As one who used to enjoy a view of the East China Sea from my front door porch in Okinawa (about a yard and a half square) , now I wonder just what mess is being dumped into the East China Sea I swam and snorkeled in? Even laying on the paultry Kadena AFB Okinawa beaches that bordered on it seems less appealing.

Shanghai is in a lot of movies since movies began. And the attention and stories continue.
Did you know?

The Royal Navy’s Fleet Flagship, HMS Ark Royal, made a visit to Norfolk recently. Later she trained with the US Navy and Marines off our eastern shore.

Giuseppina Pasqualino di Marineo, an Italian performance artist, was recently murdered at age 33, during her “Brides for Peace” Middle East tour.

The French ship FS Jeanne D’Arc participated in the pirate incident response off of Somalia.

Martin Luther King was a Republican.

The Israelis just conducted a major National Defense Exercise beginning April 6th that had the region in a high hover.

The Israelis operate some high tech German built diesel subs that carry modified US Harpoon missiles with “suspected” nuclear warheads.

Teacher Jolita Berry was attacked in a high school fight in Baltimore last week. The school systems response is also noteworthy, if you know.

House Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank and Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd, and their staffs, are planning more schemes to move the risk to the taxpayers from those who made bad decisions, such as buying mortgages that are now in default.

Little of “did you know” is reported by our media. Did you know?

Saturday, April 12, 2008

A generation of poor American leadership has finally caught up

In genealogy, a generation is 30 years, the time frame for this post. And more than a fair share of poor leaders have been at all levels, federal as in President or Congress, and their vast hired staffs, down to state governments and local leaders, to include governments, schools, religions, and unions. The evidence is cumulative, mostly embarrassing in its impacts to a Country such as the USA, but also negative in the terrible impacts on the coming generation. While the future will have to reap what our poor leaders have sowed in the decades’ past, so can citizens begin to sow a better new world USA. While all is not doom and gloom, much pain and suffering, as being hungry and cold, will ensue. And we did it to ourselves, somehow. And there are still bright spots that may be dimmed, also. What a shame!

First some cumulative evidence. The very recent success of the French against some small village thug group of a dozen pirates off of Somalia represents leadership vice devotion to committee action and other such interagency time consuming action. The tendency for turning problems like Hurricane Katrina and the recent sub-prime mortgage “crisis” into another mining of the national wealth demonstrates poor leadership. The political leaders’ inability to keep expenses within income means demonstrates a status quo attitude and poor judgment that will become apparent when no one in their right mind will loan us money to pay expenses beyond all the income means. Moodys has already given the USA a window of warning…2017 or so being the year of reckoning. Kids as young as six are now getting legal records of being a sexual pervert for being dumb in school when real leaders might have applied more common sense and a sense of proportion in dealing with this kid. The politician’s tendency to spend the collected monies for today’s benefits at the expense of tomorrow’s demands will have dreadful outcomes, from federal social security and medicare demands to local government unions “guaranteed” expectations. Only poor leaders would do all this to the point where some state legislators, as in Louisiana, exempt their criminal and even poor performance from affecting their retirement benefits. One might want to check out their local state and counties, as a start, to see is something similar is being sneaked by.

All is not doom and gloom. Voters should start with electing leaders who promote standards over excuses and assumptions. No longer will the war on poverty go on forever, where we as a USA continue to spend money on underlying causes without simultaneously locking up the low life criminals. No longer will we accept the simple statements like “restoring USA respect in the world” or “we need another conversation on race” “just on face value”. Standards still imply locally things like basic police protection, fire protection, and health protection having priority over local government union contracts when the governments can’t pay it all. School curriculums and social standards are still the parents’ choices.

That much pain and turmoil will have to occur is the result of our poor leadership over the last generation. One can say we have just had a bout of poor leadership. And while I sympathize with idea that American voters are part of this problem, and have been silly, perhaps dumb, too often self serving in school systems (think jobs over kids), and even naive respondents to the pandering of this last generation of poor leaders still living in the past and even status quo, the obvious solutions have to do with basic American standards, and politicians who can explain all this to the future citizen voters. Temporary political success in our past is no excuse to running a local area, school system, state, or our Country down. And all evidence suggests we need to use our votes are all levels, local, state, and federal, including adding our past poor leaders into the coming suffering groups. If this sounds like pay back, it is not. It is sending a message to future political leaders, as in live like “us”, and succeed together. Voters will back up “ future winners”. We could sure use a “bout” of strong future leaders.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

How will the reporting media report their self demise?

Going out of business is tough. One can take responsibility, or one can blame.

First the blame idea:
It is the politics.
It is the unprofessional reporting.
It is the business impact of the news’ reporting business. Think unelected pundits who make a living this way.
It is the over expansion of too many people in the new to the world 24/7 news cycles.
It is the over impact of TV reporting what is the real news.
Second is the responsibility idea:
Citizens are more demanding than ever.
Basic integrity in news reporting is at a nadir.
Citizens have more ways to “get” their news.
The percentage of un-informed voters is down. The percentage of over-educated fools is up.

Of course, all people just want to know is the “news”. What a simple and powerful idea for a future business plan.
The tyranny of the minority in America

Fortunately the majority still rules in a country such as the USA in America.

As a citizen who took vacation and kid's school time off and traveled some distance to see the Olympic torch pass by in 1996 before the Atlanta Olympics, the farce of the torch run recently in 2008 San Francisco gained my attention. The serious threat of disruption by minority protesters caused most people to miss the torch being run along the announced San Francisco route (since the route was changed and unannounced). In spite of whether one agrees or disagrees with the minorities protesters reasons ( I happen to agree), they should have shown some courtesy towards the majority of viewers that took the time and travel, often with their families.

Now even the coverage of all this seems appalling. Somehow the protesters are being honored by too many in the media coverage. Even the local politicians self report they feel good about “containing” all this. What a change from 1996 when so many citizens would have taken the protesters out, as in tackling them long enough to let the torch pass and the rest of the crowd to enjoy the historic occasion.

This whole occasion has made this citizen wonder again about the riots by protesters and the police response in Chicago during the 1968 Democratic Party Convention. History generally reports it was a disaster for the Democratic Party. Now I think maybe it was a win for the USA. And this may apply to the Democratic Party Convention in Denver this summer. After all America, the USA, is about we citizens, and not any present national political party’s frictions, or some minority group without basic manners that has latched on.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Americans cannot have it both ways

Our world has changed. And now we get to live with it. For decades and under both national political parties, we have reduced our presence in the world. It has not been by accident, but on purpose.

Now when there might be a dog fight, some others will bring their big dogs. And we may lose, or just back off. Is that what we wanted in our earlier votes? Or more realistically, is that what we can afford, or want to prioritize. Now is it benefits, or basic government services, like defense or spending more public money on our underclasses?

Good, bad, or indifferent, that is where we are today. Do any Americans think there can be enemies at the gates? … as in wanting to live like us using all that our new world American world has provided for us.

Most Americans realize we have a special deal that is worth fighting for, and defending. Our more idealistic and self-absorbed think things in America are on auto-pilot and even God-given or some other version of deserved, to assume an ever fountaining money fountain of income.

Now this is a votable issue. So is the choice of which language we want our kids to learn as a second language.
Lancing an American boil

Suppose we gave a tax and few people came. Suppose we broke decades of “assuming” and just made people accountable for their actions. Suppose we increased our number of American stakeholders by increasing our number of taxpayers (vice tax dependents). Today’s and the decades old trend is otherwise. Suppose we broke with decades of associating happiness and self respect, with income. This last comment is prompted by a brother, retired multi-millionaire through the health care industry, who was observing a local family while we shared a lunch at a local eatery here on the Cumberland Plateau. To over generalize, he observed that while he was well-off, and they were dirt poor, they seemed happy, and he was somewhat envious of whatever it was they had and shared.

Boils are an old time term for pockets of infection that are painful in the pressure and pain associated with them. Today’s teenagers would call them really big zits. The old time way to treat them was to lance them to let them drain and relieve the pain and pressure, while the body then took over and healed the wound. Perhaps something similar politically is called for by today’s doctors of democracy.

While death is an option, many might want to take the medicine and method, today called the honest vote. An honest vote is what occurs inside the voting booth. While the medicine and method is painful, so is death in this case.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

What’s so special about republicans and democrats?


Both represent the status quo that has gotten us to the point we are at today. Most voters are unhappy with how things are today. And these parties’s existence today is not all that long, like maybe eight or more decades. They are not even mentioned in the Constitution or in people’s thoughts at our startup. We had other parties at our startup. Even today more voters call themselves independents vice republican or democrat. Like a tick well dug into our skin, both parties are so well dug into America’s “skin”, that any American with political ambitions from the local to federal levels must go through one of the two party wickets…because they say we have to. Maybe some of today’s party leaders have forgotten the history and startup reasons for their party. If this sounds like unions and union leadership, so be it. When one thinks about this, the two national parties “raison d'être” is closer to unions than one might care to admit.

America has a love affair with third political parties. Generally, they are thought to be a waste of voter time, though they and the candidates do send a message. Every once in a while they become a new national party, usually on the backs on the old status quo. And also every so often, they even change elections results. Many think Clinton became President in 1992 because of candidate’s Perot’s efforts, as an example. Add in George Wallace in 1968 and John Anderson in 1980 as examples of other efforts.

Times are different these days. While the present candidates for federal President seem stuck in their own parties routines, most voters are not similarly stuck. Does it still bother so many Americans that so much donated cash is being raised for candidates and sometimes through their own parties. Are the donors donating cash for nothing in expected return?

A key point is that the USA, America, is special. And no amount of republican or democratic party efforts can change that. So go independents!

Monday, April 07, 2008

Moral values in American leaders

Most of our American leaders are at the local and state levels. Add in the federal politicians, and we have over one-half million elected leaders alone. Multiply this group by their hired minions, and add in our religious leaders and union leaders and teachers, and we have a lot of fellow Americans in leadership positions. One would hope they share the same moral values as the citizens they represent and live among, but this does not seem to be case all too often. This also applies to common sense values based on moral values similar to their represented citizens, or the citizens they live among.

Here’s one reason to think so. The old expression that one “aw-crap” overcomes thirty “atta-boys” still applies. Said another way, most will tell thirty others about their bad treatment or disappointment while they will tell eight people about their good treatment. A second reason to think so is to tolerate the abysmal personal behavior and standards of a leader because they also do many good things. Recently this appeared above the American political horizon in the form of Rev. Wright in Chicago, where similar citizens of the USA could promote all the good things he has done in his service to his church and community and the USA, compared to his vile, hateful, racial , and anti-American rhetoric. Decades ago, Rev. Wright would be dead in the water by those Americans judging him using their moral standards, and their willingness to do so. Now so many use today’s moral standards to give him a pass. Some, of course, are naïve enough to be subject to the basic propaganda techniques, like he really did not say it, or words were taken out of context, or one had to hear the entire speech to really understand, or we just heard wrong. And most seem to be liberal democratic party types in the case of Rev. Wright, but one can use their suspicions and judgments across the American political spectrum.

It is probably a fair report to suggest that many Americans have different moral values, and even some are always subject to propaganda techniques even if they don’t know it. It is also probably fair to say that no amount of rational and reasonable discourse will change what other people presently believe, especially in regards their moral values. And it is also probably reasonable and fair to believe that many politicians and leaders running for office also try take advantage of those same people. We all preach to our own crowd.

The other story is so many Americans these days don’t want to let their fellow citizens with different moral values drag them down, as if, if some of these different values may cause great harm financially and perhaps even in foreign policy. Tolerance of letting them have their way and chance has been going on for decades, with poor results to too many Americans. Part of this other story is the need to vote just to maintain things like dictating school curriculums, government budgeting and avoidance of borrowing, the accountability of the judiciary at the local levels when it dictates unaffordable spending that can only be honored with borrowing. The other story said another way is that change is coming. Whether one group with their recent morals will be in charge, or more older moral values will be in charge, is a matter of the vote, pure and simple. Either way it will take decades; and 2008 is a good year to start.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Who’s short changing our young women?

The short changing is across the board. Sexually transmitted diseases that result in death, sterility, or lowering of marriage prospects are just one symptom. Lowering of self esteem, so crucial to growing good young happy and healthy daughters, is another symptom of what has been going on the last three or four decades. Another short changing is the crazy notion that boys and girls are the same, and the indoctrinations that reinforces all these notions. Reinforcing self respect seldom happens compared to the way thing used to be reinforced. Public shame and embarrassment about having sex out of wedlock, and the ever growing having children out of wedlock, is waning. Last, the idea of feminine beauty being looking like teenage boys is unfair, and unnatural.

Who’s doing this shortchanging? The usual culprits are the ugly disagreeable women who give away sex for attention, and the similar men who take advantage. But so many others make the usual culprits pale in comparison. The promoters of the pill and abortion as birth control methods are major short changers. Our community leaders, some religious, some teachers, all parents, are major short changers if they deviate from making young women in charge of their and human reproduction. Pregnancy denied does not stop diseases and all the terrible consequences. Having sex because you can never supercedes the basic female instincts of self preservation and motherhood. And our society’s politicians that do not establish laws that reinforce and reward families and marriage that support our young women have short changed these young people. Even the idea that a young girl can have a family and a career without consequences is so unfair, even if politically correct.

Now one can never tell boys and girls what to think and how to act, especially when hormones are raging. This not rocket science. The idea is as old as humanity. But we can dictate behavior, and support ideas and policies and laws that promote and protect and grow our daughters into productive young Americans. Anything less, which is what we have been doing in the last few decades, is short changing this group of young women.

In our vast land many fellow Americans deserve to be congratulated for being themselves, and in so doing enhancing our young women. All is not doom and gloom. There are many bright spots. Growing these spots into bigger areas should be a National Interest objective in the next one or two decades.

Call it Nation Building, “at home”. For example, the well publicized idea of it takes a village to raise a child is so third world and associated with Africa. While trendy, this idea fails so many of our American National Interests to promote our young women by “our” values. So as always it comes down to our votes…political, pocket book, and even choice of churches and religious leaders. Now this is a good way to protect and promote our future young women in pursuit of their happiness and our societal interests. These days it is called a “win win”. Decades ago it was called “women’s rights”.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Storming the Bastille…American style

Votes vice pitchforks are a good way to go. For every congressman we replace, we also replace an average of 14 hired “personal” staffers. For every senator we replace, we also replace an average of 34 hired “personal” staffers. And these federally elected Americans also have committee staffs which are separate, and some even have national party staffs for their national party positions. And so, just on average, our Congress hired around 9500 “personal” staffers in 2000 numbers, all taxpayer paid. Now don’t forget all our federal executive’s hired staffers, and add in the entire federal bureaucracy if you like, though these tend to be more civil service jobs with all their protections. Now go on to our state and local governments to include school boards, and the impact of our votes can be really profound. Less one denigrate how important even school boards are, the Gwinnett County, Georgia school annual budget is 1.4 billion dollars. Gwinnett Country is a suburban county for Atlanta. In 1995 the numbers for our Nation looked like this.

Now and until Moody’s downgrades our borrowing status circa 2017 (as they have forecasted) , we can still storm the Bastille, American style.

While all situations are local, there have been several notable trends now going on for decades that will adversely affect our American future, unless we take begin voting in new “changers” at all levels, local, state, and federal. And the sooner the better.
1) For decades we have addressed our underclass by giving priority to spending money on underlying causes. A much smaller priority has gone to simultaneously locking up the underclass criminals to protect us from them. Like sheep, we have just accepted all this, to include murders of our children by robbers, and having to keep our kids in the yard just for self defense. This has evolved more to be an urban and suburban issue than a rural issue. Either way it is a votable issue to so many. And most have the most altruistic goals, but they also expect programs that produce results. Peeing away our National Wealth with good intentions comes in a poor second. Getting things done is a winner, if we vote for the “winners”.
2) We have enhanced the quality of life of so many local and state government employees by providing lucrative retirement and medical benefits, often now better than many of the taxpayers have. Much of this has been “voodoo” financed by assumptions of forever growing property values and income taxes. When one adds in all the federal promises about social security and medicare, and given all the taxpayer’s guarantees of covering mistakes and even defaults, mostly promoted by our federal politicians, no one, let me say it again, no one, really knows the compiled impacts and implications of all this, though it is ominous. Hints are everywhere. California is the 8th biggest country, financially, and when it is necessary for them to propose releasing criminals on to the streets, some politician and hired staff have given priority to benefits over basic government services, like not being murdered in the course of routine life. In this example, the best way to change things is to use our votes. One can follow out their logical results of what has happened so far and may happen to the rest of us. Protecting the citizens from criminals will win out, and education and basic school curriculums will win out, and defaults of retirements and medical insurance benefits will occur. When we taxpayers have to assume the losses, mostly by working more of each year just to make do, much friction will occur. Many Americans will suffer.
3) Those who expect social security and medicare benefits may be left out in the end. How future voters sort all this out is up to them and their politicians since our present elected politicians have passed on it, as in a chance to make things better for our American future. And ideas of generational and even class warfare are more than academic. For example, the trillions of dollars we have spent on our underclasses might have gone towards money in the bank for our seniors and their social security and medicare benefits. Now many seniors will go cold and hungry and have reduced expectations of life. Will any from the underclasses say thank you for trillions of dollars spent in their behalf over decades by our seniors?
4) Video foreign policy and pundit foreign policy is appalling. That so many respond to this ignores the most basic idea of what is in our National Interest. America is not the World’s policeman. And our National blood and money must only respond to our National Interest. Most pundits would be more impressive if they were to form and join some today’s version of the International Brigades in the Spanish Civil War circa the 1930’s. Even sending in their kids would help. Start with Darfur. And as long as they want to use our blood and money in their cause, they are on the losing side of American history.
5) Most American workers agree with free trade. The trick word is “free”. For decades the zillions of band aid laws and rules promoted by politicians intended to protect and sometime enhance American workers have worked against us when our politicians, and bureaucrats, use a double standard. Three impacts are obvious on the Cumberland Plateau in Tennessee. One is the lower quality of anything made in China. Since I live on a wildlife farm, plows denting by basic plowing force me to more Canadian and American products that not only don’t dent, they turn the soil. Second, we still use all the environmental rules on the downhill side; those most are obvious and common sense because we would do it anyway. What really hurts is to see local factories in Putnam County that made airbags for cars and candy for Americans and hats for Americans go overseas. Hence the third quality or question, locally of course. Is our federal government, in my words, about basic common sense that includes basic free trade, or are they thinking some other way? Like it or not, this is what people are thinking.

And on to thinking. We still have our vote, thank goodness.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

And the band plays on

Our ship of state is undergoing a crew change. The two main national political parties that have sailed us into harms way still act as if the status quo will go on forever. These parties have had their chances their forbears earned, but “just because it was” does not mean “that is the way it will always be”. That citizens have picked up on this before the two national parities are picking up on it only amplifies the need for a crew change. The present discussion about advantages and tactics in the present Presidential elections cycle is an obvious example; when the democratic national party wants to tamp down their previously ordained cycle and agreed upon process, because it hurts their perceived chances at success in the later November election for President. Seldom, actually never, does one hear discussion of our National Interests from this party. And the republican national party seems to be the new main sponsor of earmarks and pork barrel spending with little discussion of the downside of this spending, all to often having to be financed by more borrowing and lack of common voter influence. And the band plays on.

Maybe like animals that can sense coming earthquakes, citizens can sense coming financial and political calamities. While animals will perhaps run for the hills, we citizens can vote for mitigating the coming calamities that only humans could make happen. The trend is already long set and obvious with there being more “independent” voters than “democratic” voters or “republican” voters. The “sense” is the threat to we, our families, and our children. The threat is the expectation of a more dismal future brought on by all that our politicians, and their national political parties, have brought to us today.

The threat and expectation are both real.

The expectation is that we can use our vast good intentions, and national wealth, to change how people are. Somehow our good intentions will elevate long suffering under class’s to soar and achieve, if only unleashed by those we elect. The under classes will recognize this and respond in kind, in this theory. As evidence we have elected politicians for decades and they have spent trillions of dollars in pursuit of this most wonderful goal. That little has been achieved is a votable issue…not just the results but the original intents and assumptions about how to best achieve the basic expectations. For the neophytes, this effort is unique in human history.

The threat is decades old. We Americans have given priority to addressing the perceived causes of what makes people underclass, while giving much lower priority to locking up the lowlifes. It has been a one front campaign, with predictable disastrous results when the reporting media reports murders of young women from Auburn and UNC, just for money and by robbers. Why weren’t these dirt bags, with records, locked up to protect us from them. And why can’t I even walk my dog at night in Charlotte without some thug with a gun putting it to my head. The results of this misguided effort by both of our national political parties has various impacts in local communities, all adverse. Even the idea of accepting all this as part of the problem is reinforcing failure. Many want their tax dollars to go towards protecting and promoting our best, and locking up our worst. The idea of reinforcing family success and kids, not failure, is so basic to American success. While we can never dictate what people may think, we can dictate behavior. This is not rocket science. Welcome to America. And yet the band plays on.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Running an American government is too important to be left to today’s loser politicians

And the reporting media and pundits that make their living promoting their politicians…

It has not always been this way. And politicians and media are usually hard working. Not too many decades ago politicians and reporting media even had some modicum of National Interests, and our common citizen’s interests in their practices. Even if most promoted their local districts and even themselves and their political philosophies, they also recognized the need to nurture our Country. And there were few pundits, PhD experts, etc., etc., etc. Even standards of basic integrity were different a few decades ago. Politicians lying about their promises to the voters, called campaign platforms, were still expected and tolerated. But lying out and out was not tolerated, even if insanity seemed to be part of the lying. There were standards enforced by the voters, and a basic trust that those elected had some sanity, truth in their words, and some interest in protecting our Country. We trusted our fellow citizens and their votes in their districts more than we do now, and not too many decades ago.

That not too long ago world seems long gone, with exceptions in many local areas in our Country. Most of the exceptions seem to be at the local levels, like counties and school boards that still consider the general good as a political consideration, or ensuring they pay their way to protect their and their kids futures.

First to the media. It is getting boringly repetitive to hear the economy is “the worst in X years” or similar things about every time we have a Presidential election. While many Americans may fall for this, many do not, especially if the facts don’t agree, to include where one lives. And in basic propaganda 101, many have lost respect and willingness to pay for this unprofessional reporting and conduct. While many in reporting media may be recent graduates of prestigious journalism schools and getting hired as a start job, one wonders when the light bulb will go on as to the average age and good looks of so many of these young people, and their expectations of being thrown on the ash heaps of growing older. And I still wonder just who decides which schools are “prestigious”. One suspects there will be many bitter people who have been shortchanged and overcharged in their journalism educations, all the while their professors enjoy their benefits and retirements. Once upon a time, the reporting media served a function of government, often called the 4th Estate. The function, their job, included looking out for conflicts of interest and basic pandering and stealing, and report it to the citizens for we to decide. And people paid for this by paper subscriptions, now more like Internet clicks, or whatever. And the media people were graduates of the school of hard knocks. Now those interested have to do what our 4th Estate used to do, again, not too many decades ago. And the idea is not to do muckraking, just basic investigative reporting when something doesn’t sound right. And a lot does not sound right, as in pass the smell test. Alas, most expect nothing much to change except for so many to go out of business, and so many to lose jobs.

Second to the politicians. A revolution is due in America, though not a civil war. A civil war means deaths and ambush fights; a revolution means votes. And much of America is at the local level, like the curriculum for our kid’s public educations. For decades we have been electing politicians to do our will. Now things have become politicians telling us how to live, and pay by the way with our money. Where their self confidence and self righteousness changed is still questionable as to timing. And things seem to have evolved to being more like the politicians, again we have elected them, playing with Monopoly funny money and dictating what we are do and what the future will be. This present group of politicians, is collectively, a bunch of losers at all levels, local, state, and federal. And if as we did we elected them in, so can we elect others to better represent us.

Voting them out is obvious as a better path to our American future. But most citizens and parents do not throw out the baby with the bath water. Hence we use our own common sense selecting politicians to achieve our objectives, local, state, and federal.

No body born in America probably ever thought of themselves as revolutionaries, but there we are.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Curmudgeons for vital National Interests

A curmudgeon is a crusty irascible cantankerous old person full of stubborn ideas.

Vital National Interests is such an idea given our recent past and probable future. Vital National Interests can be domestic, and foreign. The military types who promote Clausewitz use the idea of “center of gravity”. Vital National Interests and Centers of Gravity are much the same in principle. Rather than bog down in academic definitions, think of the places attacked on 9/11. The World Trade Center was a financial center of gravity, the Pentagon a military center of gravity, and the flight that went down in Pennsylvania was thought to be aimed towards a political center of gravity, either the White House or the Congress building itself. Another center of gravity is our lifestyle center as personified by Hollywood, or even theme parks. That they were not attacked suggests they will be sometime if they can get by our wonderful Americans defending us, and even the constant delays in that year’s Academy Awards and locations suggest others at least thought this way. In all cases much damage was done to our Country. It was a successful sneak and surprise attack.

Suggestions we should get involved in Darfur, or Zimbabwe assuming the present dictator is gone and leaves the place a basket case, reflect at best the indignation of the writer, or the video journalist. Even those who promote the Ukraine joining NATO “never” present it in terms of Vital National Interests, since it is not. And the idea also applies at home. Educating, vice indoctrinating, our children is a Vital National Interest to this curmudgeon. Being able to make change in small business or even the McDonalds drive-through lane, and read and write and even do taxes, is a Vital National Interest for these young people to succeed in life, and be happy.

Now I have my definitions of Vital National Interests, and other Americans may have other definitions. A key point is to not confuse the two. This idea is not new, nor original. It has been presented as the Powell Doctrine, or even the Weinberger Doctrine. And the ideas are dead-on correct.

What is morally appealing is not always and necessarily in our National Interests. It’s a grey colored world. Hence it is emotionally appalling to hear fellow Americans or even Europeans suggesting we Americans go in harms way with our National Blood and Money (now too often having a borrowed element) in pursuit of “their” moral and political objectives. Yet none of them believe this enough to form and join an “International Brigade” ala the Spanish Civil War circa the 1930s. This is a good “acid” test of what is really important, as in a vital National Interest.

And so to our probable future. Too many present candidates have been short-changed in their educations, or become too over-confident about our present American society’s ability to sustain itself without some nurturing. Some Vital National Interest nurturing is called for if our American way of life is even to survive, and our children having more than a third world chance in life. So vote, please, locally, state, and even federal. It will probably take the cycles of 2008, 2010, and 2012 to take effect.

We Americans will be best off if we can stay focused on Our Vital National Interests, foreign and domestic. Now that will take our votes. The idea and principle is not too complicated, and one does not have to be a Curmudgeon. One just has to think about what is “really” important to them and their futures.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Some tribes are better than others

This is a most “anti” multicultural idea. Not all tribes and nation-states are created equal. Some are better than others.

“Better” in western terms means things like rule of law, women’s equal rights, and basic social services like police protection, fire protection, and public health policies (to include clean water, sewage control, and malaria control). Those who want to return to more lawless and savage states are invited to move to these places on earth, for which many still exist, and then tell us how to live like them if they are even still alive or can communicate in the near future. This idea is not political, like the old “America, love it or leave it”. It is a practical idea, like go check it out, and report back.

To be preached to by those who have derived their “truth” in the West is appalling unless they live as they preach. Former Vice President Gore’s mansion in Belle Meade, Nashville is such an example with its enormous carbon footprint and home base for “his family” all the while he preaches for the rest of us “to cut down”. I’ve been there and it is a big monstrosity. Even more appalling is those who practice unelected environmental promotions that denigrate our energy lifestyles, all the while not denigrating their lifestyles. Just who elected or appointed them (of course many appointed themselves since they know the “truth”)? Since I believe there are too many humans in the world, and even if demographics suggest a lowering of total numbers, it will be overcome by increasing energy lifestyles of the existing numbers; the future over the next 200 years or so is gloomy. But there are other ways to go after this problem than the self-anointed environmentalist’s ways. Yes, some tribes are better than others. And some courses of action are better than others, starvation being a poor course of action, for example. For the poorly informed, the cost of basic rice and wheat will become more newsworthy in the next year. And few will volunteer to starve.

To speak of the New World we live in almost always has the tone of some idealistic and even academic theme. Yet this tribe in America is also a practical idea of success. We no longer have to “carry the waters of our Old World ancestors”. However we came here, we (who are mostly descendents) are a successful tribe in our own right, now. That this tribe is not God given, nor automatic in human history, is obvious to those Americans who have lived in other tribal areas and learned other “truths”. Certainly we are full of our own problems, many brought on by our own compounded successes to date. Today’s financial problems are a good example.

And so to the sale’s pitch. Forming a more perfect union is part of our tribe’s instincts, and history. Fighting over how to form a more perfect union is so American. Tearing down America is not a good method, given the better alternatives. Some of us object to being torn down, given all the work and good that has gone on so far, and having lived in other parts of the world and seen the alternatives. Best future leaders will recognize this, acknowledge this, and explain how they want to make things better. That they can explain, and we can vote, is a still a privilege unique in much of our terrible human world. We Americans are a pretty good tribe, all in all. A little nurturing by savvy citizens will go a long way.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

I might screw around a little but I am not a whore

I first heard this expression while on recruiting duty decades ago. The principle still applies to the quasi-business world, and politics, where decisions are seldom black and white. Some have or have done or will do with “ a load of compromising on the road to their horizon”.

Perhaps this is how we may muddle out of our present financial and political mess in the USA, sooner rather than later. Most will think, and some may say, we have had a bout of poor leaders in the last few decades. This may be unfair given hindsight, but that is how things are thought of today. And we voters have been selecting fellow Americans at all levels during these decades, local, state, and federal. And some have been better than others, depending on the vagaries like locales, voters, education of the electorate, and social standards. Now many suggest our present candidates for federal President, all volunteers by the way, are a weak group compared to some earlier standard they think of. Like beauty, standards are in the eye of the beholder. My standards include saneness, basic honesty in explaining things to the electorate, and experience. Intelligence and education comes in a poor second, especially given another old time expression of “educated fools”.

All this leads into a concern, an “antenna” going off, that today’s financial (and political) problems are being addressed by a combination of Americans, and some non-Americans, who do not have our best interests in their mind. They for many reasons are still status quo. Mostly, it is Americans using their education and politics trying to solve the recent decades of problems using 1920’s history and lessons learned. That today’s America and things are different from the 1920’s is obvious to most, and so should our solutions be. Again, some “antennas” say this is not what is happening.

Most hope the present efforts to rescue Wall Street and the whole crowd succeed. Historically, the efforts are to keep a recession from becoming a full blown depression, and in this theory this benefits us all. That some political efforts are also on going to make sure if all this fails, then we taxpayers assume the losses with our taxpayer monies, is just another reminder that the status quo is alive and well. Some just don’t get it!

America is still full of political ostriches that put their head in the sand as too many ancestors have been doing for decades. At all levels, local, state, and federal, politicians have been getting elected for decades by we voters who support more and more retirement and medical benefits for their government employees. As a voter and taxpayer, it is difficult to find a source that “compiles” all these promises to sum up the implications, locally. Well, the implications are too often locally enormous, as in make the present Wall Street problems seem minor, or so the “antenna” senses. And all this, including the worst case local governments and their politicians and their voters, may drag us down in the end.

There are practical solutions still available that do not need another band-aid form of government. One is to make all governments from schools boards to cities to counties to states to the federal government have to conform to basic business accounting practices. This idea should show the awesome compiled implications of what we have wrought. Then at least, we have more information to vote on, and what we want to do about the problem. Right now it is too try increase taxes, reduce benefits (promises), or default. Among these terrible choices, can we voters have a voice. In this is our future.

There is a Plan B, called the status quo. It will probably pull apart our American social fabric, and much of the World’s social fabric when many begin starving in this Plan B. Already there are reports this is going on in the rest of the world, and our unelected environmentalists who have led to starving for the most idealistic and altruistic reasons will now come to the Court of Humanity.

None of this is by accident. It is all on purpose. How typically human.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Treating our National Health

How many Americans will go to a doctor who treats symptoms vice the disease? How many will keep going to a doctor who keeps putting band aids on top of band aids, while leaving the underlying wound to fester and probably get worse. Sooner or later, many Americans will switch doctors. Sometimes patients have to get sick or die, or sometimes the doctor dies or goes out of business, or just sometimes Americans get fed up and seek a better deal for the most basic human value, health and treatment of the most simple diseases for our relatives, and sometimes us.

The present financial mess, mostly reported in our financial capital of New York City, and our political capital in Washington, D.C., clearly shows the band aid method is alive and well. Many prescriptions being bandied about are just band aids on top of band aids, and treatments of symptoms vice disease. Some even exploit the windows of opportunity that our lobbyists are so professional at using. One can say for lack of knowing what to do, they all do what they know. As in mixing medicines, or even software on computers, no technician, bureaucrat, or politician knows what the ultimate effects will be on our Country. And we elect these politicians, and they appoint so many, and use so many lobbyists. And our reporting media is so poor in reports to we common citizens. And the band still plays on, so far.

Here’s a quick summary, with reference links to follow:

The scale of the financial problem is well beyond New York and Washington, D.C, and the status quo types are still today setting up we American taxpayers to “take the hit”. This means go hungry and cold, and be sick when we can find a job. Reporting media types should also pay attention. And in the end, we cannot take the hit since the combined obligations are so far past our ability to pay, as in devote 100% of our income to the politicians to distribute.

The present financial rescue actions are on the scale of a fifth of a trillion dollars, but the scale of the unfunded deficiencies and over promises are somewhere between two and fifty-nine trillion dollars, depending on the studies. Again references will come at the end of this post so you can form your own point of view and judgment. The point is that much is being done, but it is woeful in comparison to what has to be done in the not too far future. And so far, what has been done and is being done is band aids on top of band aids. That few really know the depth of this problem is a sign of serious incompetence, locally, state, and federal. And the interconnection effects are hardly talked about. As an example, if the federal politicians (and we have to vote for them) decide to increase federal taxes to fund Medicare and Social Security deficits, they are drawing from the same taxpayers that also pay the state and local employee benefits. No one has compiled the cumulative effects of all this, but it might be fair to suggest we taxpayers will have to work most of the year to fund all the promises from today, and our past. Is this what we voted for? Was this the intent? Is this what we want?

That the Louisiana state legislators have exempted themselves from having their state retirements being subject to convictions for political corruption sends a message that they may know something we don’t.

Let many be emotional, at least for a second or two. Trillions of taxpayer dollars have been spent over decades on trying to make America better, much going to helping our under classes. Now none of this is in the bank to help the retirement and medical funds that so need this same money. As a result, many Americans are going to pay again, mostly in lower life expectations. Is that what we wanted, or expected?


Friday, March 28, 2008

Suppose we elected losers and they hired fellow losers

It has happened about Iraq and Mesopotamia, and can and is happening again. For lack of knowing what to do, our Executive and Congressional politicians, and many of their hired staffs, do what they know, which is mostly perpetuating the status quo of the last few decades. Now this “group” wants to do for us about the present financial mess what they have done for prosecuting a War in Iraq and a War on Terror, all within their Beltway, of course. In hindsight it is so obvious most of this “group” of American leaders has no experience and little educational preparation about prosecuting a war, and probably little more experience and educational preparation for dealing with the financial mess, other than perpetuating the status quo and responding to lobbyists. Some even use their meager efforts to undercut the defense of America, as if she doesn’t need it, or some one else will do it.

This link provides one reasonable review of the poor prosecution of the war in Iraq:

Just when our American psyche and natural charitable instinct went from helping our under classes to having them dominate our politics and budgeting from local to National is a matter for historians and their books. My guess is sometime in the 1960’s. Just when our national political parties also switched is probably in the same timeframe. From understanding and addressing underlying causes to accepting the murders by lowlifes of our family members is where many have drawn the line. While we cannot dictate what people think, we can dictate and legislate behavior. And murder and mayhem is such a reasonable responsibility of governments from local to federal. Just lock up the criminals and build enough jails to make it happen. This is not rocket science. Just how we began to elect losers that got us to this point of accepting murder of our family members suggests a change in course is due. The old days of expecting standards to help influence society for the better is still a viable course of action. And for those who want to know when the war in Iraq will end (count me in), many also want to know when the seemingly never ending war on poverty will end (count me in, also). Even a change in local budget priorities to the basics, likes new jails, is so obviously long overdue (after all our population is growing). This needs to be respected in too many local areas as our local politicians try to balance local government benefits, and retirement benefits, for example. The trend is nation-wide, and so threatening to our Nation’s future.

And all I want to do is have grandkids play in the backyard without fear from criminals and sexual predators. Maybe they can even go out into the neighborhood on their bicycles and play with the local kids, kinda like the old days. Maybe they can grow up as little Americans. And the premise of the local PC family police, often called Family Services, should have been a non-starter, in the end. And you know what, we can still vote for this idea. Let me make it sound as simple as it is, and was. If we lock up the bad guys, then our kids should be safe to be kids.

If ever there was a time period for local to national parties to rise and fall, now is such a time. Our Nation deserves better. And if it is finally time for the budget battles about benefits vs. basic government services to extend to where we live, so be it. Actually, the budget battles are already underway, it just depends on where we live. The birds are already coming home to roost. Others in most Communistic North Korea have already done this drill about 15 years ago, albeit with the dictatorship ruling 20 families winning out in the end by taking advantage of nationalistic loyalty. In this historical case, when the system and governments had failed, and all were starving, there was an organized campaign for the old people to go out and die, as in commit suicide. Somehow many don’t think this will work in today’s America.

Change is due. So are our votes. Those who have led us into this mess are probably not the best Americans to lead us out of this mess. The present candidates hardly even speak about all this. They and their status quo got us here. Only “real” change will get us out of here. This voter suggests considering whether or not a candidate even speaks “about all this”.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Non-violent ways to change things

Our vote is an obvious simple and so American method.

One study suggests there are 515,000 elected positions throughout America. These are local, state, and federal. And most elected positions have hired staffers, so the numbers can be much bigger. But for the sake of a simple start point, let us deal with 500,000 elected positions. Again these are local, state, and federal. And positions can be city and county commissioner, school board members, members of Congress, or even the Governor or President.

To change things let’s:
1) Vote out 10% of the fellow Americans running for office in 2008 at all levels, local, state, and federal. When in the voting booth, vote out 10% of the incumbents. This will send a message about change to recognize America has changed, and needs “sane” leaders that recognize this. This amounts to 50,000 elected positions.
2) Vote out 25% of the fellow Americans running for office in 2010 at all levels, local, state, and federal. This will clear out the deadwood that did not get the message in 2008, or did not care, or worry that their status quo world has changed. This amounts to 125,000 positions.
3) Vote out 50% of the fellow Americans running for office in 2012 at all levels, local, state, and federal. Otherwise we Americans are still stuck with the last of the surviving political dinosaurs trying to solve tomorrow’s American problems with their old politics and methods. This amounts to 250,000 positions.

New buzzwords should enter American political dialogue, like “doing more with less”, or “performance based budgeting”. Even “benign neglect” may come back in foreign policy as a discussable option. What is so silly, is these are repeats of buzzwords from an earlier time. And the rise of one or two new National Parties will help this voter revolt along (I would call it a change in direction). And not that the rise of new National Parties needs help because the present National Parties are so ensconced in the present status quo and political power they and their staffs are dragging our Country down. They are so status quo and not “getting the message”. I wonder what Hoover and fellow politicians were thinking when he ran for President circa 1927.

Probably the coming hard times will make change happen anyway. In this case, what is so objectionable is others being in charge of our future, as in financiers, Allies, and the old time dinosaur politicians. Especially objectionable is to recognize already in March of 2008, “our Congress” is moving to have we taxpayers paying with our work and taxes to pay the losses in the present financial mess, while the financiers still make money. If this is happening, then change is due. And votes beat pitchforks in the streets in America.

In America, commonality and incentive are so American terms. So let us apply it to our federal Congress and Executive, to include hired staffers. Much as in the Contract with America idea from the 1994 election, let us apply the military retirement rules and medical benefit program (called Champus) to our Congress and Executive, to include hired staffers, and make it retroactive to all, retired and active. One way or another, this should provide incentive for change. If it is good enough for our military, it should be good enough for our Congress, Executive, and their vast numbers of hired staffers. No exceptions can be allowed, or if they do, then let us vote these dinosaur types out of office and jobs.

A key point is that spending is and has been out of control for all kinds of reasons, to include rising national wealth, rising property taxes, rising income taxes, our votes (and being pandered to as well as fear prompted votes by seniors), and a sincere desire to form a more perfect union, as in some kind of grand American socialist English commune scheme from the the 19th century, or even the hippies in the 20th century. All this has been without some kind of basic performance accountability, to include standards. Now that the birds may be coming home to roost, we Americans still want to and need to find and elect politicians that act in our National Interests. The present crop is not good enough, though one must be careful as many communities and States and fellow citizens should be applauded for their good performance to date.