The Interview

Watching the movie, The Interview, a fictional comedy in which the leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-un, agrees to be interviewed by an American dummy like myself, reminded me of an assignment we were given in War College. We were tasked with the following question: If you were the combatant commander of the Pacific (our military leader in charge of Pacific forces), what advice would you give the President?

“Peace, commerce and honest friendship with all nations; entangling alliances with none.” – Thomas Jefferson

I advocated that we give China the world prestige it both desires and deserves by shifting the region’s stabilization role to the Chinese, recommended removal of our combat forces in South Korea, and, believing that our Grand Strategy is best served by shrinking the footprint of our forces on foreign soil, argued it was time to diminish our role as the world’s policeman, shift the eagle’s talon from arrow to olive branch, and resume the noble cause of our great nation.

“My first wish is to see this plague of mankind, war, banished from the earth.” – George Washington

Watching the movie resurged some of my old feelings, caused my nagging spidey sense to tingle, and now I offer Kim Jong-un my Interview questions:

“Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?” – Abraham Lincoln

  1. Your grandfather, Kim Il-sung, led the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Your father, Kim Jong-il, was General Secretary of the Worker’s Party of Korea. Your family’s vision, as I have heard it, has always been the unification of the Korean people, One Nation, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  As a man living over here in the Democratic People’s Republic of America (we called it the United States), I wonder – are you willing to embrace a true Democratic Republic in Korea, a government of the people, determined by the people, working for the people? Is this the “Democratic Republic” you envision, or is it something else?
  2. With 49 million people south of the DMZ and only 24 million north, a “united” Democratic Republic of Korea would presumably look more like South Korea than North Korea. Is this agreeable? Would you be willing to recognize Seoul as the capital of a united Korea if that’s what the people wanted?
  3. George Washington, the first leader of our budding Democratic Republic, declined the opportunity to become its Supreme Leader, refused the temptation to be President indefinitely, and instead, chose to give up power. He recognized that his Vision precluded his Rule, and for that, We chiseled his likeness into a mountain and celebrate his birthday. Are you willing to do likewise? If the US were to remove all forces from Korea, would you, recognizing that a Democratic Republic is incongruent with an authoritarian family dynasty, leave politics altogether and cede power to the people?
  4. If the armistice and demilitarized zone from your grandfather’s day were today taken to the next logical step, if the UN Security Council recognized a united nation of Korea, assuring both its sovereignty and security, if lifted sanctions were coupled with International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) nuclear inspections, if united Korea was welcomed into the fold of peace-seeking nations on this planet, would you support UN monitored elections and remove yourself as a potential candidate for election?

Sometimes, when I look at our world, I wonder if the solution sits right in front of us.

“Great leaders are almost always great simplifiers, who can cut through argument, debate and doubt, to offer a solution everybody can understand.” – Colin Powell

Memorial Day

“How could man rejoice in victory and delight in the slaughter of men?” – Lao Tzu

Memorial Day remembers those who got it – those good people who recognized that Life is a test and then stepped up in faith, love, and honor to overcome.  Personally, I do believe that Life is a test.  I believe that my life is God’s way of forming me, grinding me into a stone suitable for Solomon’s temple, teaching me the lessons I need to internalize before I move on, trying to make a diamond out of the rough – that’s what life is.  You are the Gladiator, thrust into the ring of earth, with the unseen watching and wondering – what you will do with this test?

“Every man dies.  Not every man really lives.” – William Wallace

Although I’ve failed many times and will fail again, that’s how I try to look at life – a test.  A hungry family, there to highlight not only my many blessings, but the problems of our society, the world at large, and to offer me an opportunity to help – and that, in and of itself, forcing me to ask the question, “How do I, and how does a society, best ‘help’ our struggling?”  It’s a difficult test with no easy answers – such is life.

“There is no better than adversity.  Every defeat, every heartbreak, every loss, contains its own seed, its own lesson on how to improve your performance the next time.” – Malcolm X

As soon as you think the answer is to promote a Great Society, people lay claim to hours of another’s work but then neglect to volunteer in the community themselves, instead engaging in criminal enterprises to exploit their neighbor, all the while voting for more ‘aid’ and counting on their neighbors good souls to continue providing for them, whether by food and housing subsidies or prison budgets.  These people exist to show us some truths about our Self, for they are Us, and they make us question our aid approach, our prison policy, our war on drugs…  They force the questions, “Are they working?  How does a society best encourage its youth?  And how does it prevent the lazy and self-centered from exploiting the hard working and caring?  How do I raise my own children not to feel entitled, but to want to help?

“A tough lesson in life that one has to learn is that not everybody wishes you well.” – Dan Rather

There are people who have enough riches for 14 lifetimes but still exploit the common man for more, engaging in Ponzi schemes, frauds, and illegal market manipulation – these people force us to evaluate whether we have Freedom or Chaos, many times demonstrating that what is legal is not what is right, they show us what we can become as well as who We are.  That is life, a trial, a test, a forging of metal through fire, hammer, and anvil.

“John Henry said to his captain,
‘A man is nothing but a man,
But before I let your steam drill beat me down,
I’d die with a hammer in my hand, Lord, Lord,
I’d die with a hammer in my hand.'” – Ballad of John Henry
.

Life, everything and everyone, past and present, all of it, is there as a mirror of Us – so we can see who We were, who We are, and then decide who We wish to become.  All of us are humbly invited to take the test of the mirror on the wall and see how close to Snow White we can be.  Anyway, that’s what Life is to me – a trial, a test, a training grounds.  And Memorial Day, a holy day to remember those who passed it.

“It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.” – Epictetus

There are people, people not very much different from me and you, who watched as a grenade came down from the sky, saw it land in their trench, and thought “this is a trial, a test to see if I am, indeed, one of the good guys.”  And they jumped on that grenade.  Or rushed out of the bunker to save a comrade.  Here’s to you, you Heroes of Mankind.  To all of you good spirits that jumped on the grenade, you who actually chose to sacrifice your life for your brother, We, those of us you left behind, we most humbly thank you.

“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” – John 15:13

But Memorial Day isn’t only meant to remember the military veterans who selflessly paid the ultimate price.  Memorial Day is about all good people, martyrs, and Saints – and not just those who came before us, but those who live with us now… it’s about you.  Yes, believe it or not, there will be someone, many years from now, who remembers you on Memorial Day.  They will know that you were indeed one of the good guys, and they will thank God that a person such as you lived.

“It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died.  Rather we should thank God that such men lived.” – George S. Patton

You who volunteer to teach kid’s lacrosse, you who help in the student classroom, you who give your time at the food bank – thank you for living a life worth remembering.  God’s test of “will you do the right thing here?” is not always a grenade, and I’m thankful that there are people doing great things right now – people passing the test.  And then of course, there are sinners like me…

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this:  While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” – Romans 5:8

We’re all sinners, in case you didn’t know (uh-oh, the big secret is out).  And I’m so glad that every day has a sun rise, that each day is Easter, that we are born again and risen white as snow in the eyes of God.  God provides the ram, Jesus makes us white, a Father loves his Son even after he chooses poorly – however the message got through for you.  The point is, you are going to go home one day, and the test, the question before you now is, “will you do the right thing here?”  Sometimes answering “Yes” isn’t as easy as it might seem.

“A president’s hardest task is not to do what is right, but to know what is right.” – Lyndon B. Johnson

I think we have a profound respect for those who sacrificed in battle because in our hearts we know that, ultimately, they passed their final exam.  I believe this is why, when America finally balances its budget and becomes whatever it is we are destined to be, we will take care of our military veterans – we will take care of those who served Us.  I don’t maintain that our current defined benefit system of paying a 38 year-old half salary, automatic inflation raises, and healthcare for the rest of their lifetime (however long that will be in decades to come is anyone’s guess) is a financial obligation that our children must owe… but I am saying that, if we’re to do this right in the end, we better decide to get rid of our tanks and warplanes before we stiff our good people who served.

“To give victory to the right, not bloody bullets, but peaceful ballots only, are necessary.” – Abraham Lincoln

I admit it, I’ve become a Dove over this last decade.  The Hawks may be right, that if we went back to being weak America – you know, the one we once were and hoped to remain when we started out – that again the powers of Europe or Asia would bring armies to bear against us and burn down our White House.  But I for one think it’s high time we test that theory again.  We do want to keep trying to live in peace, right?

“I am not only a pacifist but a militant pacifist. I am willing to fight for peace. Nothing will end war unless the people themselves refuse to go to war.” – Albert Einstein

I don’t know about you, but I am one war-weary citizen in this world of ours.  I don’t like our role of world policeman.  On the contrary, I think it’s time for the Giant to go back to sleep.  I feel like we are the Hulk in a scene from The Avengers, with the world wondering when we will stop punching stuff.  Sometimes, as I count the dead and injured, I begin to wonder whether or not we are the good guys… and that concerns me.

“It is good that war is so horrible, or we might grow to like it.” – Robert E. Lee

If we do need these wars for a peaceful future… if we do need to “help” foreign countries to discover freedom and democracy… if we do need government programs to assist those of us who have fallen on hard times as a result of our “current” economic times… then I say this:  Let’s pay for it in our Generation.  Let’s jump on the grenade.  Let’s BE who it is we are remembering this Memorial Day.

“The greatest way to live with honor in this world is to be what we pretend to be.” – Socrates

Let’s balance our budget.  Let’s take the shrapnel now and save the generations behind us, instead of watching the debt grenade until it explodes on all of us.  If we jump on it and it’s a dud, great.  Who knows, there may even still be time to disarm it…  this might be a cause for MacGruber, but perhaps we can still beat our Self.  We have to try to win, right?

“The first and greatest victory is to conquer yourself; to be conquered by yourself is of all things most shameful and vile.” – Plato

Is it our political system that forces us to sell off our children’s future?  Or do We actually prefer inflation, interest payments to bankers, and unfunded government promises?  Memorial Day has got me all fired up again – let’s do the right thing.  If given the choice, let’s choose to become a martyr.  Come on my good super friends, let’s balance our budget.  Let’s put away our fear and jump on the damned grenade.  Let’s become the people we admire.

“The only thing we have to fear is Fear itself.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

“A diplomat is a person who can tell you to go to hell in such a way that you actually look forward to the trip.” – Caskie Stinnett

Calling all Joes

“In the first place, God made idiots.  That was for practice.  Then he made school boards.” – Mark Twain

I recently witnessed the mockery that is a school board meeting to “consider” whether or not a charter school should be allowed to compete against the public schools.  My best friend is spear-heading a drive to bring Oxford Preparatory Academy (OPA), a top-tier charter school, to our district so I had the opportunity to view the circus that ensues when a good charter school applies for entry.

“Ignorance is bliss.  I wish I still had some.” – Adam Pascal

To little surprise but much dismay, San Diego County’s school board denied OPA’s charter.  Yes, even though Oxford Preparatory Academy is a top-rate charter organization with multiple campuses… even though their track record is impeccable (Oxford took a failing school in Chino and elevated it to #1 – with ESL students experiencing the largest jump)… even though concerned and motivated parents amassed nearly a thousand interest signatures, lawyers filled out numerous state application forms, and Oxford boasts a $375,000 grant to open… even though the Andre Agassi Foundation and other charities financially back OPA’s proven instructional techniques… and even though no student would have to go to OPA – on the contrary, lotteries would be held to see which lucky students would get to go – this phenomenal organization’s charter submission was “denied.”

“I believe public education is the new civil rights battle and I support charter schools.” – Andrew Cuomo

Now, as if designed in hell as part of some cruel game, the system requires Oxford to appeal to the State of California to see if it can get the chance to compete against… well, the State of California.  Naïve, concerned parents will show up at the meeting believing that the “No” outcome is not pre-determined – but it is.  I now know what happens.  The parents receive less than a minute to say something, the board votes “No,” the parents cry, and everyone goes home.  That’s how it works – or more appropriately, that’s why it doesn’t work.  And we wonder why our State education system is failing our children.

“There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.” – Nelson Mandela

After the meeting, I went and saw the new “GI Joe” movie.  There is a scene in the movie where the “Joes” get betrayed, their team is destroyed, and Cobra runs the State.  The only survivors are a trinity of Joes who submerge themselves in well water to avoid being killed.  To me, that’s what Oxford Preparatory Academy supporters are – a small group of average Joes, a collection of baptized good guys, who are bound and determined to fight the good fight.

“I’m your average Joe guy. I don’t really care for politicians.” – John Mellencamp

From my viewpoint, the odds are definitely stacked against our concerned parents – it appears the Joes have been given “Mission Impossible.”  Because you see, the people who are on the School Boards, the politicians who decide whether or not to allow charter schools, they are only allowed on the election ballot after appeasing the powerful Teacher’s Union and State Education Administrators – the very people who despise competition to public schooling.  The Joes actually have to fight Cobra at Cobra headquarters.

What I found really appalling were the “reasons” the School Board gave for denying Oxford’s application:

1) the charter school is unlikely to be able to stay open after the 1st year

2) the charter school fails to meet the State’s criteria for application

3) the charter school has an inadequate education method.

It’s as if years ago, after the first fool’s application was denied, the school boards just kept using that same template to deny anyone and everyone ever since.  I mean, come on School Board, before you give us your pre-determined “No” answer, can you at least make a small effort to pretend like you’re actually trying to determine whether or not this is a good and viable charter school?

“The greatest way to live with honor in this world is to be what we pretend to be.” – Socrates

Couldn’t you at least change your denial criteria to reflect the fact that Oxford Preparatory Academy isn’t some Mom and Pop charter school likely to fail after one year?  Are you really claiming that Oxford isn’t likely to remain open even though it possesses a grant, is supported by the Andre Agassi Foundation, and – well let’s see – how about the fact that it already has multiple campuses, right here and now, that are and have been open for years!

“One of the cruelest things you can do to another person is pretend you care about them.” – Doug Coupland

Come on school board, really?!  You claim Oxford has an inadequate education method even though their well proven instructional techniques rank it #1 of all schools in Chino – a conversion school which, before Oxford took it over, was failing?  Really?!  How can it be ranked better than all of the public schools yet still be considered inadequate to compete?!  You can’t possibly expect us to believe that… or are you just that confident the citizenry will simply continue to plod on in ignorance?

“To succeed in life, you need two things: ignorance and confidence.” – Mark Twain

That’s what I found most disturbing – the school board simply paraded the same old denial criteria it always uses and smiled at the helpless parents around them as it voted to deny the charter.  I sat and watched as good people presented irrefutable academic numbers to a disinterested board.  I witnessed the absurdity of the vote, observed the pre-determined outcome, and thought, what’s wrong with Us?  Have we stopped caring?  Are we too busy?  Or are we just powerless?

“The foundation of every state is the education of its youth.” – Diogenes

If a recognized, successful, and established organization like Oxford Preparatory Academy cannot get its charter approved, then tell me, who can?  I’ve got to be honest with you my friends – this political journey is rapidly sapping my strength.  I didn’t know it was this bad.  There is a scene in “GI Joe” where the few surviving Joes send out a distress call to see if there are any other Joes alive out there.  I suppose that’s where I am now.  I feel very much like a downed pilot, wandering alone in enemy territory, hoping desperately that we Joes can take back our government.

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” – Helen Keller

So here I am.  I’m broadcasting on the only channel us good Joes use – free, open, and in the clear – is there no help for the widow’s son?  I’m lighting the Bat Signal, sending out an SOS, encoding a message in this R2 unit – help me Obi-wan Kenobi, you’re our only hope.  Here’s the deal “Joes” out there in America.  Cobra blew up the whole gang.  Duke is dead… it’s… it’s just us left – those of US of America who managed to submerge in the well and stay alive.

“I don’t know if you’ve been keeping up on current events, but we just got our asses kicked!” – Pvt Hudson, Aliens

I salute those of you who attended the school board meeting and are trying to make a positive difference in this world.  Stand up and be one of the Good Guys – it’s the message of every good book, every good movie – it’s The Message.  So keep at it Joes.  After witnessing how quickly and efficiently the school board denied OPA’s charter, it does look like Mission Impossible… but it takes only a few Joes and the Grace of God to make a world of difference.

“Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world.  For, indeed, that’s all who ever have.” – Margaret Mead

Boo-yah!

Dungeons and Dragons

“Somebody said they threw their copy of Dungeons and Dragons into the fire, and it screamed.  It’s a game!  The magic spells in it are as real as the gold.  Try retiring on that stuff.” – Gary Gygax

OK, you got me… I have a confession to make…  I played Dungeons and Dragons as a kid.  I bought the lead figures, Monster Manual books I and II, I even sprung for Fiend Folio – and then I went off adventuring.

“Adventure is not outside man; it is within.” – George Eliot

Full confession – I went on to play a similar game in college with a group of fraternity brothers (I’m still not sure why you assassinated my Duelist Vaughn!).  It’s all true – so as cool as I like to think I am, in truth I’m a bit of a dweeb… no regrets though – those were some fun adventures!

 “Christ.  Seven years of college down the drain.  Might as well join the fucking Peace Corps.” – Bluto, Animal House

It’s been over 20 years, but it all came back recently.  You see, my kids were unpacking an old ammunition box I had stored away in the garage and, you guessed it, it was packed full of Dungeons and Dragons paraphernalia.  There it was… after all these years.  Character sheets from when my brother and I used to play… the 20 sided die… even some lead figures (a few beautifully painted by my brother – or so we thought back then).

“Life is either a great adventure or nothing.” – Helen Keller

Kids these days (mine anyway) don’t want to play board games or adventure games – they prefer the Wii, the Kindle, the Xbox.  I tried to play XBox with my kids but was killed in less than a minute.

“I just moved into the world of Xbox Live. And I’ve discovered that everyone on the Internet is a lot better than me. I spent half an hour the other day designing a boxer, and I got knocked out twice in the first round.” – Daniel Radcliffe

In any case, for my kids “Minecraft” is the latest craze.  In “Minecraft,” you play a character, try to find gold and other precious ores so that you can buy armor, weapons, and other items that can help you… then you fight off wolves, creepers, pig men and then… hey, wait!  I know why kids love this game!  And so I figured, what the hell?  Open the box kids, role some dice, and let’s play Dungeons and Dragons!

“If the new American father feels bewildered and even defeated, let him take comfort from the fact that whatever he does in any fathering situation has a fifty percent chance of being right.” – Bill Cosby

Although the game ended in fighting, crying, and a disbanded group of adventurers, it was an awesome and enlightening experience.  My oldest son chose to be a thief, my daughter picked magic-user, and I knew my youngest was a fighter.  We didn’t get too far before my daughter realized that her older brother wasn’t sharing all of the treasure – I explained to her that he is a thief, if you want him to sneak into the cave and see what’s there before your unarmored magic-user enters, you should probably expect him to pocket a few items… And that’s when all hell broke loose.

“Hell, there are no rules here – we’re trying to accomplish something.” – Thomas A. Edison

Helping the kids to create a character caused me to have one of those “introspection” moments… I was explaining to the kids that they needed to pick an Alignment.  They could be Lawful, Neutral, or Chaotic…  “What does that mean?” they asked, and I tried to do my best:  A “Lawful” character believes that a society very much benefits from state laws, penalties, courts, police, fines – they believe that a society without laws will allow the evil people to thrive and take over… On the other hand, a “Chaotic” character might well believe the law, courts, and fines from the state to be the very evil that has been and is continuing to thrive, offering that people would be better off if they were more allowed to be themselves… And of course, a “Neutral” character is in the middle.  Same thing goes for Evil, Good, and Neutral I told them.  Anyway, in the process I asked myself, “What is my alignment?”

“I don’t like to commit myself about heaven and hell – you see, I have friends in both places.” – Mark Twain

I would love to hear your alignment… and then, what you think ours should be?  As for me, I think that the Good Ole USA, the Us over here in America, I think ours is Neutral Good.  As I see it, that’s our alignment, at least what I believe it is supposed to be.  I think this is why I get so frustrated with politics – in particular, our two party system of Red vs. Blue.  We are given a false premise, as if the alignment question were binary.  Do you want to be Chaotic or Lawful, which one is it?  And we’re supposed to be Neutral there – Neutral Good.

“Washing one’s hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless means to side with the powerful, not to be neutral.” – Paulo Freire

The discussion then is hampered by the parties implying Evil to the Chaotic or Lawful question, framing it now as:  Do you think there should be no Laws or Regulations in your society, every man should just be out for himself, and he should be allowed to hurt his neighbor, exploit his workers, and damage the environment however he wants?  Or do you think that the State should set up vast tax laws and regulations, create extensive oversight committees, inspection requirements, bureaus, and then ensure the “proper” redistribution of wealth from the working to the unemployed and elderly?  Tell me, what alignment do you want Us to be?  You can hear more debates on the television if you’d like.

“Debate is the death of conversation.” – Kitty O’Neill Collins

But I don’t want Us to be Lawful or Chaotic, nor do I think Us Evil.  I think We are Neutral and Good… and they won’t let me vote for that.

“Let us never forget that government is ourselves and not an alien power over us. The ultimate rulers of our democracy are not a President and senators and congressmen and government officials, but the voters of this country.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

Yours in Faith.

 

How should a Limited Government promote the General Welfare?

An individual, in promoting his own interest, may injure the public interest; a nation, in promoting the general welfare, may check the interest of a part of its members.” – Friedrich List

“The government must not interfere with private enterprise… business and markets are what determine value… the government should not pick winners and losers” – I’ve heard the arguments, and it is certainly true that the Solyndra debacle is a poignant example supporting this perspective.  Nevertheless, although I am a limited government advocate, I respectfully disagree with the premise that the government’s limited role requires that it abstain from being involved in promoting private industry.

The greatest advances of civilization, whether in architecture or painting, in science and literature, in industry or agriculture, have never come from centralized government.” – Milton Friedman

I agree that government takeover of industry hinders it, I understand that the existence of government contracts increases the potential for corruption, and I recognize that the taxing of people to pay for government pet projects encourages undesirable lobbying and money campaigning by businesses and special interests.  Yet even with these truths noted, in my humble opinion, history demonstrates a nation’s government must be actively involved in industry if a people are to stay employed, if a society is to grow, if a nation is to thrive.  We must try to minimize corruption, encourage transparency, keep our government accountable – but we will never excel by refusing to acknowledge its proper role.

We can’t talk about community values without being prepared to invest in those very same communities.” – Joe Lieberman

If a government fails to provide a direction for the markets, neglects to steer the business economy by funding internal projects, refuses to recognize that it is a customer providing voice, value specifications, and regulations under which the private enterprise operates… if instead, a government relies on capitalism alone to determine the right answers, embraces the free market so unquestioningly that it does nothing to ensure the prosperity of its people, relies on solely business to be the engine of the nation…  Well, in my humble opinion, that’s when a society begins to lose its middle class, that’s when it begins to need credit to survive, that’s when a state begins to fail.  The large wealth gaps and poor infrastructure in many South American, African, and other “limited government” minded states provides interesting case studies.

Where globalization means, as it so often does, that the rich and powerful now have new means to further enrich and empower themselves at the cost of the poorer and weaker, we have a responsibility to protest in the name of universal freedom.” – Nelson Mandela

For America to get back on track, we must again realize what it took to establish our motion.  Yes, we would not have flourished without great industrialists like Carnegie, Rockefeller, Gould, and Morgan… but we mustn’t forget that our engine was sustained by government investment in ports, highways, universities, and science.  Our thriving years and broad middle class were not only created by industrialists, they were nurtured by government investments in both the society and in the people – to include schooling, GI bills, college grants, research development, and business contracts.

Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the Earth.” – Abraham Lincoln

The May 2011 Economist puts US spending on infrastructure at 2.4% of GDP with Europe at 5%.  The Feb 2011 Economic Times notes that India has increased internal infrastructure spending to 9%, with China pushing 11%.  As a result, the United States now ranks twenty-third overall for infrastructure quality between Spain and Chile.  South Africa announced Sep 2012 that it is increasing its infrastructure allotment from 4% to 8.6% GDP.  As the US borrows money to spend on welfare programs, military budgets, and retirement entitlements – all the while cutting taxes on its successful – other nations are rightfully investing in their future.

No man should bring children into the world who is unwilling to persevere to the end in their nature and education.” – Plato

If the America of old is to be reborn, we must be willing to invest in it.  And I would propose that in order to be able to invest in our future, in order to actually balance a budget which promotes the future Us, we must willing to eliminate government entitlement programs, drastically reduce our military budget, increase tax revenues from our most successful, and instill an Import Credit System to address the trade deficit.  But first and foremost, we must come together on a shared vision as to what a limited government is supposed to do.

“Man is not free unless government is limited.”Ronald Reagan

No government should do more than it must, but regulating the capitalists, providing the environment under which private industry operates, and steering the nation’s direction via government funded projects are things it needs to do.  Our government is meant to lead.  This being said, I completely subscribe to the idea that the government’s investment should be via the private sector.  History demonstrates as much, and the lesson is not lost on present day Russia and China.  Europe is learning it this very day, and we must as well.  Although the government should not do the project, it should tax so as to pay for it.  Putting government agencies “in charge” of both determining and carrying out our investment projects creates a government monopoly of an industry… stifles competition… breeds corruption… promotes inefficiency.

Nothing is so permanent as a temporary government program.” – Milton Friedman

But if we interpolate these truths about government programs to mean that the government should remove itself completely, if we then decide that the government should not do anything to promote the society, we misapply the principle.

Let me offer a couple scenarios to illustrate my thinking:

A) Let’s say the actuaries at an enterprising Insurance Company were to determine that, for an investment of $X amount of dollars in land purchases, levee constructions, and run off reservoirs, they could so dramatically lower the likelihood of mid-west flooding that they could make their investment back in less claims only 7 years after project completion.  From that point forward, if premiums remained unchanged, they would reap huge benefits in their bottom line as a result of their investment.  The American people would no longer have to endure flooding and, after the investment paid off, the company would make record profits, employees could see higher wages and benefits, promoting other industry, etc.  Let’s say that the numbers were sound and the win-win was undeniable.

B)  Let’s say that a car company saw that, for an initial investment of $Y dollars in service station natural gas storage construction projects, pump allocations, natural gas transportation lines, and auto-assembly re-tooling, they could produce an automobile and supporting fueling system that would allow the American citizen to fill with natural gas at any service station and travel up to 600 miles on a tank that would cost only $9.  Let’s say their business minds determined that the resulting automobile revolution would rapidly cause gas stations to convert more and more pumps and would usher in a new era of automobile.  Not only would the country see cleaner air, less hazmat spills, get off of foreign oil, and tap into one of America’s most abundant resources, but the resulting demand for natural gas automobiles would be so overwhelming that the company would get their investment back in only 10 years by selling natural gas automobiles and conversion kits.  The project would lower the cost of living for every American driver, profits for the company would soar after 10 years, states would be able to eliminate smog tests… Let’s say that the numbers were sound and the win-win was undeniable.

Would either of these projects ever take place?  Would these private companies ever begin the implementation?  Would the American people ever benefit from these private sector solutions?  I humbly submit that the answer is a resounding No… and here’s why:

The insurance company that invested $X in preventing mid-west floods from occurring during heavy rains and high river seasons – they are not the only provider of flood insurance to the mid-west.  The car company that invests $Y in converting service stations to allow for natural gas fills and provides natural gas automobiles – they are not the only maker of cars.

What will happen is that the insurance company, after it all but eliminates flooding in the Midwest, will find that its competitors can now lower their premiums.  Similarly the automobile company, after dedicating all it had to create its vision of American citizens driving cleaner and cheaper automobiles with $9 fill ups, would find that, at the moment they were done refitting all the gas stations with natural gas pumps, establishing their distribution lines, and beta-testing their product, their competitors would now offer natural gas automobiles. The American citizen, the consumer, you and I – we would benefit from the better systems, the lower premiums, the stable communities… but as the private companies would never be able to reap the rewards of their investments, they will never embark upon them.  As such, the American citizen is left to endure floods and high fuel costs… to pay for expensive flood insurance and smog prevention programs.

Progress is a nice word. But change is its motivator. And change has its enemies.” –
Robert Kennedy

If government funding is not used to help create the environment in which we want the capitalists to operate, if the initial costs of desired societal changes are not borne by us, then the capitalists will simply continue to operate in the current environment.  It is not the capitalist’s place to determine the environment – it is their place to excel within it or to change it when to do so means profit – and this is why even a limited government has a crucial societal role to play.

“If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.” – Lao Tzu

In new industries or in those that have little barriers to entry, the government can simply try to prevent monopolies to encourage private side growth and innovation.  But we mustn’t define this as the government’s only role.  For our society to thrive, our government must, through a fair, transparent, and as incorruptible system as we can best employ, be allowed to promote private industry, to provide a direction, to hire private enterprise to provide us with our future country.  Fresh water desalinization plants, nuclear power facilities, energy grid updates, highway systems, schools, Hoover Dams – many of these investments would never have occurred if they were not promoted by government spending.  We simply would not be a 1st world nation if we did not have government funded projects.  This is something even the most vocal proponents of limited government once understood, and a lesson we must re-discover in our day.

It is just as important that business keep out of government as that government keep out of business.” – Herbert Hoover

A country whose government does not encourage private industry to do things will end up a nation of minimal investment in its future – a nation with a wealthy few, a mass of struggling, a monstrous debt, or, in our case, all three.  I am not an expert on natural gas automobiles or flood prevention, and I’m not claiming that our country needs to do these things.  But I don’t think it takes an expert to see that We the People should embrace a government who is chartered to promote private industry, expected to, particularly during times of high unemployment.  It is not desirable that government agencies and bureaucracies do the work, but I believe it is the government’s role to ensure we have work to do.

Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.” – Theodore Roosevelt

Limited Government is one that maintains the military necessary to ensure security, provides an opportunity for all to live, learn, and grow to adulthood, and makes sound investments so as to allow its citizens to promote our collective future.  I fully support those Americans who have recognized that it is time to end government welfare programs, government retirement programs, union mandated and no-bid government contracting – time to take the power of the dollar out of the government’s hands.  But please my friends, don’t take this to also mean that we stop investing in ourselves, for we must continue to invest in our young, in our able, in our future if we are to survive.

When a nation goes down, or a society perishes, one condition may always be found; they forgot where they came from. They lost sight of what had brought them along.” – Carl Sandburg

It is this belief, this view of what limited government means, that leaves me without a party… causes me to write this blog… for our inability to comprehend the proper role of government is why I believe we are failing as a nation.  We have two wrong choices to choose from –  one advocating that we eliminate government investments, and the other advocating that we invest in government.  They are both wrong.

The mortal enemies of Social Security and Medicare are those who, in contempt of the plain arithmetic, continue to mislead Americans that we should change nothing.” – Mitch Daniels

So there is my view of what our society’s limited government should look like.  To yours truly, a Limited Government is one which provides necessary services via the private sector.  Our Government should simply provide every American citizen a Health Savings Account to get needed medical care and then let the health industry compete for our dollars.  It should provide every child an Education Savings Account to get educated, trained, and prepared for the job market, and then let the schools compete for our dollars.  And then it should provide us with jobs by investing in private enterprise to better our society – it should regulate, monitor, and hire the capitalists to hire us.  Period.

Under capitalism, man exploits man. Under communism, it’s just the opposite.” – John Kenneth Galbraith

Seems so simple to me now, the right way for a society to function:

Tax what we must from those capitalists who succeed… so as to continue the society which allowed them to do so.

If government welfare worked, I’d be a Socialist.  If government replacement of private industry worked, I’d be a Communist.  If we still lived in a day where any man could claim acres of free land, I’d be a Libertarian.  If tax breaks on our wealthy was the best way to combat unemployment, I’d be for it.  As for me, I’m for what works.  And, in one man’s humble opinion, the best way to do it is to tax our successful, and then give them their money back to hire us – to fund private sector projects that help our society at large.  That is how a nation thrives.  As I look around at our monstrous debt, shrinking middle class, and the unsustainable course of unwieldy government programs… as I hear our two political parties arguing only how the other platform doesn’t work… and as I see our people voting in vain for whatever broken platform best suits them… I hope and pray, for our children’s sake, that we will come together behind a shared vision of what limited government means.

As soon as the land of any country has all become private property, the landlords, like all other men, love to reap where they never sowed, and demand a rent even for its natural produce.” – Adam Smith

Today, there are those who own, those who lend, and the rest of us – there is the Lord, the Serf, and the Outcast – and no free land for a child to claim.  If man is relegated to simply relying on the natural business cycle to allow him a job, particularly in today’s age of robotics and computers… if our government does not actively work with private industry to create a middle class, particularly in times of high unemployment and economic slow downs… if we don’t let the government set the stage and challenge the capitalist, we will lose our middle class.  We will become a bankrupt and broken people with a few who have thousands of millions and the many who are destitute… and we are well on our way.  The widening wealth gap, the high unemployment rates despite tax cuts on our wealthiest and corporations, the angst from the struggling middle class who have to pay for those who don’t work, the debt we are accumulating as we try to provide minimum services to our poor and elderly using unwieldy federal programs, all the while our wealthy call for an elimination of inheritance tax so that they can maintain their position from generation to generation… it is all indicative, to me anyway, that in today’s flat and fully populated world of multinational businesses, what we are doing isn’t working.

We have a system that increasingly taxes work and subsidizes nonwork.” – Milton Friedman

In my humble opinion, the way a society of today will work best is by taxing our successful enough to fund the necessary projects in which to hire us.  Our government encourages our successful to remain so by taxing the winners and playing again – not by taking over the industry, not by guaranteeing its citizens they will be taken care of, not by borrowing, and not by encouraging the winners to really win in hopes that they will hire more.

A conservative is a man with two perfectly good legs who, however, has never learned how to walk forward.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

If we leave the wealthy wealthy and borrow to give people food stamps, healthcare, and housing aid, we will bankrupt ourselves… that is the lesson of our day.

A liberal is a man who is willing to spend somebody else’s money.” – Carter Glass

This is why I humbly suggest a New Deal.  I don’t like taxes anymore than anyone else, but we need to embrace the best system, and come together on both our vision of limited government and our tax philosophy going forward.  In today’s flat world, we need to have a competitive corporate tax rate so companies don’t simply re-locate headquarters.  At the same time, we need to impose an import credit system so that if they do, or if a corporation is based in a country that is not importing from us, then they have to pay for import credits in order to export to us.  We need to embrace fair trade and a world economic model.  But we also need to accept the notion that taxes from our successful will be used by our government to promote private industry jobs – to keep us gainfully employed, to provide for the future.  We need either government welfare or government investment, and I would much prefer we opt for the latter.  In my opinion, it is the only option that works.

“No society can surely be flourishing and happy, of which the far greater part of the members are poor and miserable.”Adam Smith

Yours in Faith for a better America and a better World.

Asleep but needing to go pee

“He who learns must suffer. And even in our sleep pain that cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, and in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom to us by the awful grace of God.” – Aeschylus

Have you ever woken up after a night of drinking and thought, “I really don’t want to get up right now… but I simply have got to use the bathroom… I really want to go back to sleep, and I’m afraid if I get up it will be the start of my day… maybe I’ll feel better in another 10 minutes… God, I sure wish I didn’t need to go pee…”?  I don’t know about you, but I have felt that way before – resistant to get out of bed and use the bathroom, the hard day ahead looming, the desire to sleep a little longer trying in vain to overtake my body’s need to urinate.  And that’s the impression I have of Us, as I begin to open my eyes, shake off the fog of our previous night, and look around the room…

“Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth.” – Buddha
 
$16 trillion in debt?  Really?!  It can’t be true… but it is.  We destroyed ourselves?  Really?  Bill Gates has 60 billion, Warren Buffet amasses 40 billion, and yet, we owe 16,000 billion?!  Their vast fortunes not even the proverbial drop in the bucket for what we owe… with the bucket exponentially expanding in entitlement programs, social security, retirements, and medicare… while we continue to lower taxes on our wealthy… and borrow more?!  As the truth of the financial disaster around me sets in, as I look at my nation of debt, entitlement, and angst, our children’s dismal future, I start to get pissed off – pardon the expression.  Or maybe we should go the other way America – maybe it’s time we embrace the expression, we get pissed off, and we wake up to go take a freakin’ piss!  How ‘bout that? 
 

Yeah it’s true, I feel like a man who drank way too much until way too late, then stayed up after I got home watching God knows what until who knows when, and now it is 6am and I got to pee like its tomorrow.  Like Forrest Gump I tell ya America, We got’s to go pee.  But We can’t wake up… Our Body knows it should… We need to… but We drank too much wine until way too late into the dark hours… and the day ahead seems so hard.

There it is America, that’s how I feel about you…about Us… there, I said it.  My fellow Americans I implore you, as hard as we are all working these days, as dire as our situation is, as bankrupt as we have become, see that it is time to wake up.  Realize that it is time to respond to the pressure our Body is experiencing, get off our asses, and release the toxins that are polluting us.  Urination, the removal of waste – maybe it’s the Lean/Six Sigma practitioner in me, but yes America, that’s what we need.  We have got to take a leak, leave the contaminants of past decisions behind, and then re-hydrate with something healthier for us.

“The truth will set you free, but first it will make you miserable.” – James A. Garfield
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I’m not sure where this road, this Lean/Six Sigma political project into America will leave me, will leave Us… I’m guessing that we’ll just sleep until well after noon and then wake up in a puddle, and this is what motivates me to write.  Perhaps God has called me to be our alarm clock.  At times I begin to realize that one man can’t make a difference… but then I think, well, I’m not sure of that.  Who knows?  Then I call out to God, at the top of my thought, and pray:

“Dear God, if you’re out there and you can hear me, please know that you still got one man, right here and now… yeah me, over here in the back row, the one waving here… (oh good he saw me)… yeah, what?  No, no question, no… sorry, just wanted to make sure I didn’t miss role… you know, if you’re counting to see which ones of us see the crap around us and long for something better for our children.  Sorry about the distraction all, didn’t mean to make a fuss – you know, new guy and all… but God, I just had to make sure that You knew you still had one of us out here who still cares… who is still longing to create a more perfect union… still desiring to find the best way for your country to work.”

Sometimes the thought that I am alone starts to bring me down, but then I realize that there is a whole bunch of us out there… out here.  Yes, I still believe We are good (or still good, depending on where you are in life).  As for me, I think that We are just lost…we need to open our eyes and look around for a second.  Sometimes that’s hard, particularly when you don’t like what you see.  Me personally, I like to sleep.  I justify my naps with things like, “well, it was a hard day yesterday,” or “you know, those redeye flights really throw your timing off,” but the simple truth is that I like naps, I like sleep, and I like ignoring politics.

So here’s the deal America:  If things have gotten so bad around here that I opened my eyes to look into it?  Well, then you know that it’s time to get up.  I have the distinct impression that, if we don’t wake up now, we will wake up in a pool of our own piss.  Or maybe… maybe you all woke up before me, saw that the mattress was stained yellow, and then decided that it’s no use anymore, so we might as well just sleep on it…  I don’t know, you tell me?  Have we decided to bequeath our children a yellow mattress, or are there Americans out there with the strength to stand?

“I’m tired of hearing it said that democracy doesn’t work. Of course it doesn’t work. We are supposed to work it.” – Alexander Woollcott

 

Little Red Riding Hood

“Behold, the third time I am ready to come to you; and I will not be burdensome to you: for I seek not yours, but you: for the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children.” – 2 Corinthians 12:14

“Grandma?” the girl began.  “I have a question.”

“What can I help you with sweetheart?”

“Well, it’s about Medicare – you know, the program where we pay for your procedures and medicines.”

“Yes,” said grandma hesitantly.  “But you really shouldn’t phrase it that way.”

“Why not?” asked the girl innocently.

“Well, because we aren’t paying for my medicines, we’re paying for a –”

“Oh, you’re right grandma,” the girl corrected herself, “I should have said borrowing.  And that’s my question – shouldn’t we pay for your medicines now, while you are alive?”

We?  Now?” said grandma with slight recoil.  “I think you are too young to understand, don’t worry about these things.  We pay into a system you see, it’s all very complicated.  But don’t worry sweetheart, this same system will be available for you when you are older.”

“You mean, I will indebt my grandchildren just as you have indebted me?”

“Yes, too young to understand,” said grandma, the curl of her lip revealing what could be a smile.  “You know you can trust grandma right?  My generation is not stealing from yours, it just seems that way because you’re young.  In 10, maybe 20 years, we’ll talk more about it then.  Goodnight honey.”

“Have you ever saved money to pay for the medicine program that you voted in?”

“You ask too many questions my dear.  If you must know, then you will have to go look somewhere else…  But I really would rather you close your eyes now…”

“I have looked,” the girl started, and then thought to herself, “maybe I can pay off her debts…”  After a quick calculation, she resigned herself to a life devoted not only to providing for the next generation but also the previous ones… Settling into her ill-gotten fate, she continued, “Ok grandma, but can you tell me why?  I just want to be sure I don’t make the same mistakes you did, that’s all.  How come you borrowed so much money during your life, more than you could ever possibly pay while you’re alive?”

“My dear, whatever do you mean?  I don’t owe anybody anything.”

“I know you don’t.. it’s just that I do now, and I haven’t even started working yet.  To be honest grandma, and maybe I shouldn’t say anything – but it seems strange to me that, even decades after you go to heaven, I will still be…. paying for you.  Is that how a family is supposed to do it?  I spend my life trying to pay for you… and then, when I’m a grandma… I vote for someone who will in debt my children to pay for me?  It seems –”

“Really child, it is so late you may see light soon.  You really should stop asking these questions and go back to sleep.”

“But Grandma, I read our family is in debt over 15,000,000 million dollars… and there are only 306 million of us total – that’s including you, me, and others who can’t or don’t work, including everybody?!  This means our family owes… oh my God grandma, this can’t be true, can it?!”

“Well yes, it’s true.  But don’t you worry dear, God will provide for you,” grandma replied, grabbing her dentures off the nightstand and inserting her teeth into her mouth.

“Hmm…” the girl thought for a moment, and then offered.  “Wouldn’t a better system be one in which we saved during our own lifetimes to pay for ourselves?  One in which we didn’t borrow?  Wouldn’t that be a better way to run a family?”

“Sweetheart,” her grandma said as she looked over to her, “you really must stop asking these questions.  Please go back to sleep.”

“But Grandma, it’s hard for me to sleep, knowing that with every minute our family owes more and more and I will have to pay for it.  The debt’s interest alone is becoming our largest expense.  Shouldn’t we stop doing this?”

“But I’m still alive my dear.  You wouldn’t want your lovely grandma to not get her medicines and procedures now would you – of course not.  Now off to bed sweetheart, it’s late.”

“Of course I want you to get your medicines grandma – it’s not that I don’t care about you.  It’s just that I want to love my grandchildren… and if I’m to do that… Oh Grandma, I can try to pay for you for all my life, but I don’t want to leave my grandchildren in debt.  Grandma, I don’t like this system at all!  Wouldn’t a better system be one where I save for my own medicines?  I really do want to take care of myself – I can’t imagine a heaven where I look down to see my children and grandchildren working every day to pay for me.  That would be horrible!  Anything but that – loving a child and then forcing them to slave their entire lives to pay for me… oh my soul, it could never rest like that, I can’t imagine it.”

“You can and you will,” her grandma said flatly.  “Now seriously, I must insist you stop this line of questioning or there will be hell to pay.  You are supposed to sleep now, you’ll see the game when you get older… er, I mean, you’ll understand later my sweet child.”

“I won’t Grandma – I see now.  I’ll never want this for my grandchildren, I’d rather die first.  Am I alone, or have others in our family ever tried to put the children first?  Have we ever tried to make it so that our family had to balance its budget?

“Ok, if you insist.  Yes.  Yes, they did try… since the beginning they’ve tried.  In fact, it was Thomas Jefferson’s one regret.  But with enemies on all sides, what could they do but borrow?  In 1999 they almost succeeded, but fell one vote short in the Senate – just one vote short, can you imagine?  Oh, so close they were to defeating me.  So close… and now my dear, you can’t say that I didn’t warn you… you really do ask too many questions.”

“Wow Grandma, what big eyes you have… what big teeth you have…”

“I wish it were possible to obtain a single amendment to our Constitution.  I would be willing to depend on that alone for the reduction of the administration of our government.  I mean an additional article taking from the Federal Government the power of borrowing.  I now deny their power of making paper money or anything else a legal tender.  I know that to pay all proper expenses within the year would, in case of war, be hard on us.  But not so hard as ten wars instead of one.  For wars could be reduced in that proportion; besides that, the State governments would be free to lend their credit in borrowing quotas.” – Thomas Jefferson to John Taylor, 1798.

 

Letter from the 1%

“Men make history and not the other way around. In periods where there is no leadership, society stands still. Progress occurs when courageous, skillful leaders seize the opportunity to change things for the better.” – Harry S. Truman

From:    The 1%

To:         The 99%

Subj:      New Deal 3 Memorandum of Understanding

Dear Sirs and Madams:

It has come to our attention that visionpresident.com has proposed a “New Deal,” an agreement to avoid collapse – what the business world calls a controlled bankruptcy plan.  This written response is intended to define us 1%er’s understanding of New Deal 3.  What follows is our non-lawyer, plain speak, man-to-man statement of understanding of our collective future together.  But first, I feel it beneficial that you hear our perspective, before you hear our terms…

No man is good enough to govern another man without that other’s consent.” – Abraham Lincoln

First, you should know that we are not ashamed of being 1%ers; on the contrary, we are proud of it – for we have worked hard to get here, making many difficult choices and overcoming a multitude of challenges along the way.  In the process, we have come to understand, appreciate, and respect hard work.  Make no mistake, we hold a profound admiration of our hard working middle class – our teachers, our military, our nurses – we treasure the work you do.  In fact, we would like to pay you more, for we fully recognize that it is the middle class which makes America work.

The most perfect political community is one in which the middle class is in control, and outnumbers both of the other classes.” – Aristotle

We recognize that the middle class in America is shrinking and the wealth gap widening.  We understand that you need more than simply enough to get to tomorrow – you need to support a family, plan for your retirement, help your children to learn and to grow, enjoy time with family, and assist the needy in your community.  And we are more than ready to provide the hard working 99%ers out there with more.  But not with the old New Deal, not with the remnants of a previous generations’ programs, not with a government determined to pay the non-working, provide for the retired, and engage in a “War on Poverty” via government “relief” programs.  These programs no longer encourage a working middle class by combating discrimination and abuses in America; quite the contrary, they abuse and discriminate against the working middle class by encouraging people to leave it and file for government benefits instead.

The New Deal is plainly an attempt to achieve a working socialism and avert a social collapse in America; it is extraordinarily parallel to the successive ‘policies’ and ‘Plans’ of the Russian experiment. Americans shirk the word ‘socialism’, but what else can one call it?” – H. G. Wells
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My fellow Americans, for this New Deal to succeed, you must understand that the reason hard working Americans are unable to garner wealth, provide for your future and your present, prevent your children from being overburdened in federal debt obligations…  the reason you are now relegated to an endless existence of work and toil just to get by… it is not due to our greed.  It is due to the funneling of your pay into the coffers of government wars, policies, and programs.  It is due to your forced participation in a retirement program that takes 12.4% of your pay and, in return, provides you only with vast debt obligations that your children must shoulder.  It is due to your obligation to pay government employees, including members of Congress, a defined benefit from the age he or she “retires” until some future date many decades into the future.  It is due to your mandatory participation in medical and welfare government aid programs that ensure the hard working among you pay for those who have retired from the workforce and those who fail to participate in it – a segment of the population that is expanding rapidly, and why wouldn’t they?
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Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery.” – Winston Churchill

We, the 1%, still whole-heartily believe in the vision that is America – a place where a person is free to excel, encouraged to innovate, and provided an opportunity to live well. But as such, we cannot support our current course.  Yes, we know that trickle-down economics is a failed philosophy, we’ve told you as much.

The rich are always going to say that, you know, just give us more money and we’ll go out and spend more and then it will all trickle down to the rest of you. But that has not worked the last 10 years, and I hope the American public is catching on.” – Warren Buffet
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And yes, we are ready to pay our fair share of taxes, to return to the day where the rich pay a higher percentage than the poor.  And yes, we understand that we have an obligation to use our wealth to support our fellow man.

Let your heart feel for the afflictions and distress of everyone, and let your hand give in proportion to your purse.” – George Washington
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But my friends, for us to move forward, you must understand that it is not the greed of us 1%ers that is at the root of our nation’s problems, it is the system itself.  This is what you must recognize if you wish to avoid collapse.  We simply will not support a system which continues, in today’s day and age of equal rights, to identify the government as the proper mechanism to provide for the citizenry – for it is not, we have always known this.

I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.” – Thomas Jefferson

The former Soviet Union, modern day Greece, and a look at our own Welfare State demonstrates that it is time to resume our proper course.  A society which gives its wages to the government and expects the government to provide for the people, whether said government is democratically elected or not, is left with a broken people and a broken nation.  Throughout history, this has been the case.  So make no mistake, we will let this failed philosophy implode before we bankrupt ourselves supporting it.

The reason why men enter into society is the preservation of their property.” – John Locke

Although we are prepared to handle the financial collapse of our great nation should we fail to reach an agreement with you, we sincerely hope and pray that we can work together to foster a different outcome.

 
It is common sense to take a method and try it. If it fails, admit it frankly and try another.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt
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We see the inevitable result of our current course, and we will not be a party to it.  Our current end state is a citizenry reliant on an inefficient, ineffective, and corruptible government, one catering to special interest organizations, one unable to meet its obligations to the people, and one imposing ever increasing taxes on its working and ever increasing debts on its future generations.  Our course of government subsidies for our citizenry will leave us destitute, with a divided nation pitting those who receive government checks set against those who work to provide them.  Our current system is destined for failure, destined for collapse, and we will not support it.  You must vote to end it.

“The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public’s money.” – Alexis de Tocqueville

It is the lesson of the ages, and we will simply no longer allow our great country, this noble idea called America, our most-treasured experiment… to fall to the bureaucrats.  We love you, Us, too much to let that happen.  If you wish to plot a viable future together, if you wish to balance our nation’s budget, if you wish for America’s children to have a chance at success, you must abandon the notion that the government provides for the people.

A wise and frugal Government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, which shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government, and this is necessary to close the circle of our felicities.” – Thomas Jefferson

In this century’s New Deal, we will accept a tax system designed to target us 1%ers for the overarching limited government necessary to promote our society.  We will support legislation and tax code simplification that eliminates tax breaks for us, as well as encourage smart government regulatory bodies to provide the necessary check to our capitalist nature.  Our businesses will bid on competitive government contracts to provide energy, infrastructure, and societal advancements for us as a whole, but not for individual government handouts or mandatory government programs.  All government expenditures should be investments in our future, programs that potentially pay for themselves, not taxes to provide government backstops and entitlements to certain segments of the population.  Government can invest in our youth and unemployed by promoting job training, advanced education, and proven work programs.

Join me in a national commitment to train two million Americans with skills that will lead directly to a job.” – Barack Obama

In this century’s New Deal, the government must again be removed from the charity business, eliminated from the retirement planning business, and extracted from the drug subsidy business for the elderly. This is a part of the deal some of you 99%ers may think you don’t like, but you will find America is stronger as a result.  Medicare, Social Security, all Government Defined Benefit Retirement Programs, and all government welfare programs are eliminated.  Bankruptcy style court proceedings will be used to determine the payout to those who have had their wages garnished for years, to those who have spent their lives as public servants expecting a government pension, and any other creditors claiming liens on America’s future.

It is incumbent on every generation to pay its own debts as it goes.” – Thomas Jefferson

Going forward, America will offer no future obligations other than the debt determined in court proceedings.  Going forward, all federal employees, to include Congress, military personnel, and any government entity, will be enrolled in a private sector retirement program that pays as it goes into a citizen owned and managed retirement account.  These will be regulated by the government, but not guaranteed by the government… the people… our unborn.  Going forward, each generation will be responsible for ourselves.

There are no easy answers but there are simple answers. We must have the courage to do what we know is morally right.” – Ronald Reagan

Those who work hard will find that they have enough to provide for their well being, save for their retirement, support a family, and have money left over with which to assist the elderly, disabled, and struggling in our society.  The elimination of the government programs designed to “help” us will, in fact, help us.  We will find that we are all better off when the common man is allowed to live independent of government, rather than forced to pay into a government system designed to provide for his well being.

I’m a Democrat. But I believe what Republican Abraham Lincoln believed: That Government should do for people only what they cannot do better by themselves, and no more.” – Barack Obama

The private sector can provide unemployment insurance for those who wish to purchase it.  The private sector can and does provide retirement plans and elder care health plans.  The government can and should regulate these industries – that is its purpose after all, to regulate – but that is the extent of its role here.  The government should create a fair and just business environment, ensure workplace and environmental standards, and punish those who deceive, manipulate, and try to operate outside of the law.  It should not, however, attempt to raise more taxes in a vain effort to continue to promote a failed political vision.  Defense of our community, regulation of our industry, and investment in our future – Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness – this is the full extent of what the government should do for the people.

Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.” – George Washington

So that’s the New Deal 3 as we understand it:  Social Security, all Government retirement programs, and Medicare are ended via a lump sum payout to contributing parties, as determined in bankruptcy court, of some amount that our society can possibly afford.  Government Medicaid, Housing, and Welfare Aid is ended, and all charity will be left to the private charities, many of which we 1%ers have already started.  If you cannot agree to this, then We 1%ers will be forced to let the impending bankruptcy occur.  Your pyramid scheme of borrowed money that is tied to nothing more than the paper it is drawn on will be allowed to run its course…  and then we will try again with your grandchildren to develop a sustainable society.

Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.” – Ronald Reagan

My fellow Americans, we hope you will accept our offer at increased taxes on us 1%ers to balance our budget.  But you must couple this tax increase with the shared understanding that government is not meant to ensure that everyone, regardless of work history, health condition, or age is “taken care of” by the same government that polices, taxes, and administers the aid.  Such a system will never work – we are $16 trillion into the midst of this truth, and time is running short.

To achieve great things, two things are needed; a plan, and not quite enough time.” – Leonard Bernstein

Take these charitable and unquantifiable responsibilities out of the hands of Government.  Agree to limit it, as you know in your heart it must be.  Let the government set a fair playing field, let them regulate Us, let them inspect Us, but let not their police confiscate our hard-earned monies to pay for unsustainable health, retirement, and welfare programs, particularly when these programs aren’t even being paid for as part of a balanced budget.  My brothers and sisters, let us continue to grow as One Body.  Let us get through this downturn by re-embracing the notion of an honest day’s wage for an honest day’s work – a square Deal.  Do that, and we can once again work to encourage a vibrant middle class and a better America.

The middle class is teetering on the brink of collapse just as surely as AIG was in the fall of 2009 – only this time, it’s not just one giant insurance company (and its banking counterparties) facing disaster, it’s tens of millions of hardworking Americans who played by the rules.” – Arianna Huffington

With heartfelt love for you, our country, our world, and our future,

The 1%ers

America, Land of the Slave?

“Time is Money.” – Benjamin Franklin

I have a corollary to wise old Ben’s proverb that I wish to share with you today, and it is this:

“Time is Money, and Debt is Slavery.

My friends, time is what we are stealing from our children, our grandchildren, and our unborn with our mountains of National Debt – they lose their time in this world as we enslave them in debtWe are stealing their freedom, that is the truth.  Our children will not be born free in what was once called the “Land of the Free” – they will be born with an obligation of debt and interest, the largest the world has ever seen, more than the rest of the world combined… yes, our children will be born as indentured servants, and I find that unconscionable.

“Labor to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire, called conscience.”George Washington

It is why I started this blog, this vain mission of hopelessness, to do otherwise would be to walk blindly into the slavery that awaits us.  I felt I owe my grandparents, and my one day grandchildren, something better.  So here I am, exercising my right to speak, in hopes that somehow, in some way, we can come together to take our country back.

“If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.”George Washington

There is a word for what I felt last week on the 4th of July – as I reflected on our great country, as I remembered what our forefathers fought for, as I thought about what Independence Day means… and the word for what I felt is Shame.  Has our national debt caused you to feel it yet?  Have you begun to believe that we owe our forefathers a profound apology and our children a complete change of course?  I have.  I do.  And then I think, so what are we waiting for?

“I do not look upon these United States as a finished product. We are still in the making.”Franklin D. Roosevelt

I feel like our forefathers are in the afterlife now, watching our story unfold, seeing what we are doing with the baton they fought so hard to be able to hand us… and they are shouting “NO, Booo!  You know better!  Don’t do this to Us!  This is worse than reality TV for crying out loud!  What in the hell is wrong with you people?!”  I see them throwing their drinks and popcorn at the screen, wondering if there is any way they can get their money back – get their time back.  Time is Money… and debt, debt is slavery.

“America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.”Abraham Lincoln

So true, so right you are Abe.  I watched the movie “Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Slayer” the other night.  I don’t know if it is going to win any awards, but it’s theme resonates with me in our time.  Abe Lincoln, honest Abe, a good man… a man who sees the bankers, the politicians, the slave owners for what they are – comfortable men feeding off of the blood, sweat, and tears of others for their well being – Vampires.  And then he sets off to destroy the Vampires of his day, to attempt to restore our great nation to the ideal that inspired it, to champion liberty for all even though government officials, business owners, and many of his fellow citizens despise the notion.

“I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than those attending too small a degree of it.” – Thomas Jefferson

As I look at America today, I see the parallels to Lincoln’s day – the chains of slavery are not as overt today, but they are there just the same, shackling our children to years and years of servitude. Our slaves these days are not defined by color, but by age – the younger you are, the longer you have to live under this mountain of debt.  And sadly, regretfully, shamefully, I see the Vampires abounding in our day.  Whether red or blue, artery or vein, they suck the life out of us so long as we let them.  First we enslaved ourselves under mountains of credit card, mortgage, and student loan debt… and after we were in debt up to our eyeballs, they went to work on our children.  And, as I see it, so long as we continue to vote red or blue, they got us right where they want us…

“All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.”
Thomas Jefferson

I can’t speak for you, but I am one good man who is wise to the game of debt, the game of slavery – so I choose a different course, I choose to be Independent, and I reject the notion that red or blue are the only colors I can choose.  My friend, I have been bled white.  I reject the notion that an onerous government and welfare society, or a jaded tax code favoring the wealthy and a lack of regulation on our financial industry are my only two choices in this life.  I submit that we should not tax the hard working to pay for expanding federal government aid programs for our unemployed, elderly, and “less fortunate,” leave that to the states.  Nor should we embrace policy allowing our wealthy corporations and bankers to be “free” to destroy us.  Federal regulation is needed to set the environment, federal programs are not.  Further, I submit that our government officials should not have a defined benefit retirement and healthcare program that our children pay for, for as long as they shall live – they should have a 401k style retirement program where they scrimp and save to pay for themselves just like the rest of us.  I submit that the upper class should be taxed to pay for our limited government – after all, they reap the largest benefits.

I reject the notion that a fair tax system is achieved by taxing the dividends and stock capital gains of our wealthy at a lower tax rate than our working.  I believe the middle and lower classes are owed nothing more than a teacher, a doctor, and the opportunity to work.  I submit that taxing any American and simply giving his money, his time, as a paycheck to another is an affront to freedom, liberty, and justice.  I believe a man must choose to give his time, his charity, his efforts to the benefit of another.  Federal taxes should go to improving the community at large via projects farmed out to the private sector, not to giving paychecks to those requiring charity.

To say that any people are not fit for freedom, is to make poverty their choice, and to say they had rather be loaded with taxes than not.” – Thomas Paine

The middle class and the unborn American, they are the slaves of our day.  The hard working honest among us seem to stand little chance, or we don’t care about our children, I’m not sure which.  Our non-working file with the blue government to tax the working man to pay for their livelihood, and our blue government applauds and champions their cause.  Meanwhile, our wealthy make shady financial deals to inflate the cost of living, fleecing the working man of his hard earned money – MF Global, Bernie Madoff, and the 2008 financial collapse to name but a few.  The blue and red together not only making us powerless to stop them, but worse, insuring their dealings with our children’s yet-to-be-earned incomes.  And a hard working honest man who refuses to give his wages to the bankers, he is fleeced by the government through targeted inflation – the paper he is paid with made more and more worthless with each passing hour.

“These capitalists generally act harmoniously and in concert, to fleece the people.”Abraham Lincoln

I’m with Mr. Lincoln.  Abe knew that most of the men in government were not seeking to combat slavery, only to provide a different avenue toward attaining it.  He heard our founders, and he knew that liberty, freedom, independence, a timeless Constitution – they are the only shield against those who wish to enslave us.

“Mankind, when left to themselves, are unfit for their own government.”George Washington

I see the Vampires in our government, passing Banking and Pension Guarantee legislation to “insure” our bank accounts and retirements are given to us.  It sounds good until we peel back the onion, and see that the bankers and monied corporations keep our deposits, and our “guaranteed” wages are simply another government claim of debt on our children and grandchildren.  What a sham.  Thanks but no thanks government – how about you prevent the capitalists from fleecing me, instead of guaranteeing me that my children will pay for it?  I’m sorry Thomas, it appears the banking institutions have won.

“I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations which dare already to challenge our government to a trial by strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country.”Thomas Jefferson
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I see how our government fleeced the Social Security Trust Fund of everything, of all those hard earned wages – all that time, and instead filled it with IOU’s that force us to look to our own children to pay for our retirements.  I watch them as they lower capital gains and dividend tax rates on our business owners, our stock holders, our wealthiest.  I see how they shift the tax burden of what is supposed to be a limited federal government to the middle class – the one part of society who has little use for it, and how they try to eliminate inheritance tax by calling it a “death tax.”  My eyes are open to the fact that our highest income tax bracket and rates are approaching the lowest since we passed the 16th Amendment, even while our debt surpasses all historical levels.  I see our government celebrate as they enlarge federal “aid” programs to include more and more Americans at the expense of others, deciding that a government program is better than a local charity – statistics proving otherwise be damned.  I notice as they discuss a Balanced Budget Amendment to pacify the masses, but never manage to actually pass it, each year borrowing more and more on the heads of our grandchildren and unborn.  I understand that fighting pretend and ill-advised wars only bankrupts our great nation to creditors – our “War on Drugs,” “War on Poverty,” and “War on Terror” to name a few, but see us embark upon them just the same.

“Don’t forget what I discovered that over ninety percent of all national deficits from 1921 to 1939 were caused by payments for past, present, and future wars.”Franklin D. Roosevelt

I hear you FDR, but am I powerless?  Are We powerless?

“Let us never forget that government is ourselves and not an alien power over us. The ultimate rulers of our democracy are not a President and senators and congressmen and government officials, but the voters of this country.”Franklin D. Roosevelt

Well Sir, I am trying.  But I believe we are becoming a country of Vampires – each one of us trying to get blood from our neighbor best we can and then, when they are bled dry, from their unborn via national debt.  And just as folks in Lincoln’s time thought that slavery was necessary – just as their vision was blinded by the fact that their life would become more onerous without enslaving another, so too are we blinded today by our desires to live beyond our means.  We feel that we are “owed” something from those who have succeeded, from those who managed to scrimp and save, from those who decided to employ us, or from a government we decided to serve – and so we tax our great grandchildren to get our due.  Rather than do what we know is right, rather than pass a Balanced Budget Amendment to ensure our children are not slaves to our desires, rather than forego the notion that we are owed anything at all… we lie to ourselves to keep what we have, and we tell each other that it’s Ok to borrow more money on our children’s heads – to keep them as slaves to us for just a while longer.

“Blessed are the young for they shall inherit the national debt.”Herbert Hoover

It’s not a rosy message on the 4th of July I know, but it is the truth just the same – Shame on Us America.  John McCain called it “generational theft,” I call it enslaving our grandchildren, you call it what you will.  But please America, stop pretending you don’t understand the facts.  Take a look at our national debt, a real look, and then ask yourself – my fellow Americans, my fellow good men and women who have been chartered to helm this great experiment called America, it’s time for Us to take a look in the mirror and see if We have a reflection.  It’s time to ask our self, am I good with being a Vampire?  I for one, am not.  I am ready for change that my children can believe in… are you?

“It is incumbent on every generation to pay its own debts as it goes. A principle which if acted on would save one-half the wars of the world.”Thomas Jefferson
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Yours in Faith for a better America and a better World.

Old Glory

“The American flag, Old Glory, standing tall and flying free over American soil for 228 years is the symbol of our beloved country. It is recognized from near and afar, and many lives have been lost defending it.”Jeff Miller

Today is June 14th, Flag Day, so I can’t think of a more apropos time to talk about Old Glory.  I’ve been thinking about her for a while now… in my humble opinion, the Red, White, and Blue of our national flag tells a story that we must hear again in our day.  My fellow Americans, the Red, White, and Blue of our national ensign are not just some colors our forefathers decided looked good.  They encapsulate the Vision of our nation, they symbolize the One Body that our founders understood, and they tell the story of how our political system is meant to work, to function, to endure.  The Red, White, and Blue – they are meant to represent our lifeblood.

“The American flag is the symbol of our freedom, national pride and history.”Mike Fitzpatrick

But our flag is more than that, it is our road map… did “We the People” forget Old Glory’s message?  And did we forget why it is called the “White” house?  Today, this Flag Day, I will share with you a perspective on Old Glory that you most likely haven’t heard before.  My sincere hope is that this will inspire you to open your mind to a different political perspective, to allow a third color to not only re-enter the political field, but to dominate our discourse, and cause us to think outside of the “red and blue” box of our political parties – for I believe neither party contains our proper course forward.  My fellow Americans, when our founders created this country, when they penned our Constitution, when they formed our system of checks and balances, they entrusted Us, We the People, with a critical role – the crucial role.  And if we are to fix this broken and bankrupt nation, we must remember our purpose, recognize our role, and then act upon it.  We cannot continue to rely upon the Red or Blue, the Republicans or Democrats, to fix our great nation.  We cannot continue to wear the wrong jersey and expect to win the game.

“There is much more to being a patriot and a citizen than reciting the pledge or raising a flag.”Jesse Ventura

So my fellow Americans, for any of you who have believed the Great Lie that you must be Red or Blue, for any of you who have resigned yourself to the “fact” that we only have two political parties and two possible solutions, lend me your ear to make a case for Old Glory.  You see, there is a third color, our color, one which matches the Red stripe for stripe, one which dominates the Blue with 50 bright stars, one which symbolizes the goodness in Us, and one which displays to you and I the role “We the People” are meant to play.  We used to play our role.  We used to force the Red or Blue into submission, selecting not a political party, but a Vision.

“Let us raise a standard to which the wise and honest can repair; the rest is in the hands of God.”George Washington
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The three colors of Old Glory are not by happenstance.  The Red and Blue are our arteries and veins, the lifeblood of the Body of Us.  And the White is the goodness, the purity, the health of our nation – it is why a body has “white” blood cells to fight off diseases.  You see, you and I, We the People, we’re not supposed to be Blue or Red, we’re supposed to be playing for the White team.  We are supposed to be the thinkers of our political system, the ones who remove the contaminants from our Red and Blue parties, the ones who select the good and proper course for our nation.  It is why we named the Executive Office the White House… for it is supposed to be our home.

“I think this is the most extraordinary collection of talent, of human knowledge, that has ever been gathered at the White House – with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone.”John F. Kennedy

My fellow Americans, our nation is diseased, our Body is rapidly decomposing, and I honestly believe that it will not survive without intervention from us.  Our government has accumulated nearly 16 thousand thousand million dollars of debt – do We even understand how much that is?  This expansive burden, if We are to live, is to be borne by some 70 million working Americans – a generation consisting of 2 grandparents, 2 parents, and 2 children owes over $300,000 worth of government debt today.  This in addition to the mountains of individual credit card, student loan, and mortgage debt we’ve accumulated.  Are We simply waiting to die, to declare bankruptcy and start over?  At times I believe we are, and most of the time I can see no other future for Us.  But then I see Old Glory, I remember that America has been historically strong and resilient, I envision the hardships that our forefathers faced… and overcame.  And it helps me to remember our goodness and tenacity, it makes me think we can pull out a win, and it brings me a glimmer of hope… hope for Us.

“If you want a symbolic gesture, don’t burn the flag; wash it.”Norman Thomas

In Masonry, a man is taught to achieve balance by dividing his life into threes – a third of his life spent in his work, a third spent supporting his community, and a third spent in rest and rejuvenation.  It was under this same philosophy of Three, this vision of a triad, a three legged stool, that masons created our great nation.  Government, Economy, and Religion… Political policy, Social interaction, Individual freedom… the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost… the three branches of government, Executive, Legislative, and Judicial… and the Red, White, and Blue of Old Glory – they are how we achieve balance in this world.

“Our flag is not just one of many political points of view. Rather, the flag is a symbol of our national unity.”Adrian Cronauer

My fellow Americans, if we forget our role, if we continue to fill the “White” House with captains from the Red and Blue teams, if we choose to play the game without the White referees that you and I are supposed to be – We will fail.  We, you and I, and more particularly our children and grandchildren, We the People will lose the game.  For our Body will not survive without White blood cells.  It is why 2/3 is the number of the beast, the symbol of destruction – for it represents the absence of goodness, the elimination of the white, the holy, and the good from our Body.  It represents the takeover of our Body by our politicians and special interest, the absence of you and I in the process.

“Every government degenerates when trusted to the rulers of the people alone. The people themselves are its only safe depositories.”Thomas Jefferson

I suspect we are getting close to that tipping point.  We have 1 Independent Senator and 0 Independent Congressman.  Most candidates for public office must agree to a Red or Blue political platform before even appearing on a ballot, and special interest money and influence nearly all but determines our government officials.  This is not how our balance is meant to be maintained, I assure you.  We the People were given the power for a reason.

“Let us never forget that government is ourselves and not an alien power over us. The ultimate rulers of our democracy are not a President and senators and congressmen and government officials, but the voters of this country.”
Franklin D. Roosevelt

So please, as you look to Old Glory this Flag day, remember who We are, what team We are playing for, and what our role is meant to be.  Consider voting for a solution this year instead of a political party.  Entertain the notion of an Independent candidate, a representative with the vision for the White Team, the good team, our team captain… or, as I like to call him or her, a Vision President.  Not since George Washington did our country elect an Independent to the White house, but I submit we are in dire need of it again in our day.  Consider the White stars and stripes of Old Glory and, instead of voting against whichever broken political platform you fear the most, vote for a course that will make America strong, pure, and vibrant again.

“Sometimes I wake at night in the White House and rub my eyes and wonder if it is not all a dream.”Grover Cleveland

Yours in Faith for a better America and a better World.