It is finished! New Deal 3 is now available.
Yours in Faith.
It is finished! New Deal 3 is now available.
Yours in Faith.
“I have a dream my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” – Martin Luther King
One day I had a Dream, a vision of the world He desired, inspired by the Lord, with the Promise that if I stayed strong, took up my cross, and followed Him, He would make it come true. This vision became my Passion, my calling, my mission in the world.
“Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and He will establish your plans.” – Proverbs 16:3
After Alabama decreed the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People was illegal, Reverend Shuttlesworth founded the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights to continue our quest. While meeting in Old Sardis Baptist Church in 1959, a graduate student from Ohio compiled statistics of our group. 70% of us claimed to be Americans first, then Negro. ½ of us attended weekly mass services, and 80% favored non-violent means. To her stats, she added a comment. “I try to think of myself first as an American, but usually not a day passes that I am not somehow reminded that I am first a Negro.”
“Better to be lowly in spirit along with the oppressed than to share plunder with the proud. Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers, and blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord.” – Proverbs 16:19-20
We marched, enduring beatings and hardships; Congregated in prayer, succumbing to batons and dogs of Alabama State Troopers, spending nights on end on jail cell floors, calling for non-violence even as dynamite struck our doorsteps – so that one day you would live in a land that judged you only by the content of your character. We could wait no longer.
“When you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six-year-old daughter why she can’t go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to form in her little mental sky, and see her beginning to distort her personality by developing an unconscious bitterness toward white people; when you have to concoct an answer for a five-year-old son who is asking: ‘ Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean?’ When you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro, living constantly at tiptoe stance, never quite knowing what to expect next, and are plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; when you are forever fighting a degenerating sense of ‘nobodiness’ then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait.” – MLK, Letter from Birmingham Jail
My brothers and sisters, my Dream today is that We would realize that these inner fears and outer resentments, this degenerating sense of ‘nobodiness’ is a yoke we are meant to cast off! By God, I know this to be True.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30
Brothers and sisters, you who now attend desegregated schools, walking freely in a land where Funtown welcomes your children, who march unopposed to Capitol buildings, having no fear of dynamite in your neighborhood churches, I ask you today, what is your Dream? What nation did you hope to create?
“Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest. How long will you lie there, you sluggard? When will you get up from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest – and poverty will come on you like a thief and scarcity like an armed man. – Proverbs 6:6-11
Be humble, contrite, serving those around you. Obtain your diploma, refrain from drug abuse, attend weekly mass service, marry under God before bringing children into this world, raise them in His ways, run from the adulteress, avoid groups of fools; Seek Wisdom.
“My son, if sinful men entice you, do not give in to them. If they say, ‘Come along with us; let’s lie in wait for innocent blood, let’s ambush some harmless soul; let’s swallow them alive, like the grave, and whole, like those who go down to the pit; we will get all sorts of valuable things and fill our houses with plunder; cast lots with us; we will all share the loot’ – My son, do not go along with them, do not set foot on their paths; for their feet rush into evil, they are swift to shed blood. How useless to spread a net where every bird can see it! These men lie in wait for their own blood, ambushing only themselves! Such are the paths of all who go after ill-gotten gain; it takes away the life of those who get it.” – Proverbs 1:8-19
Seek the Lord first. Have faith He will provide for you, and all these things will be given unto you. Accept that you are a child of God, embrace His Grace, respond to His calling, and Be Good.
“Let those who love the Lord hate evil, for he guards the lives of his faithful ones and delivers them from the hand of the wicked.” – Psalm 97:10
America, land that I love, today I give you my children, strong in character, steadfast in determination, sober in mind, and kind in heart. Treat them as your own, for indeed they are.
“Repent at my rebuke! Then I will pour out my thoughts to you, I will make known to you my teachings. But since you refuse to listen when I call and no one pays attention when I stretch out my hand, since you disregard all my advice and do not accept my rebuke, I in turn will laugh when disaster strikes you; I will mock when calamity overtakes you – when calamity overtakes you like a storm, when disaster sweeps over you like a whirlwind, when distress and trouble overwhelm you. Then they will call to me but I will not answer; they will look for me but will not find me, since they hated knowledge and did not choose to fear the Lord. Since they would not accept my advice and spurned my rebuke, they will eat the fruit of their ways and be filled with the fruit of their schemes. For the waywardness of the simple will kill them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them; but whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm.” – Proverbs 1:23-33
Yours in Faith.
“Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men.” – Martin Luther King
Called upon to undertake the duties of the first executive office of our country, I avail myself of the presence of that portion of my fellow-citizens which is here assembled to express my grateful thanks for the favor with which they have been pleased to look toward me, to declare a sincere consciousness that the task is above my talents, and that I approach it with those anxious and awful presentiments which the greatness of the charge and the weakness of my powers so justly inspire. A rising nation, spread over a wide and fruitful land, traversing all the seas with the rich productions of their industry, engaged in commerce with nations who feel power and forget right, advancing rapidly to destinies beyond the reach of mortal eye – when I contemplate these transcendent objects, and see the honor, the happiness, and the hopes of this beloved country committed to the issue and the auspices of this day, I shrink from the contemplation, and humble myself before the magnitude of the undertaking. Utterly, indeed, should I despair did not the presence of many whom I here see remind me that in the other high authorities provided by our Constitution I shall find resources of wisdom, of virtue, and of zeal on which to rely under all difficulties. To you, then, gentlemen, who are charged with the sovereign functions of legislation, and to those associated with you, I look with encouragement for that guidance and support which may enable us to steer with safety the vessel in which we are all embarked amidst the conflicting elements of a troubled world.” – Thomas Jefferson, 1st Inaugural Address
Felt re-energized singing the chorus of “God Bless America” in church yesterday. If you missed it, here are the words.
While the storm clouds gather far across the sea
Let us swear allegiance to a land that’s free
Let us all be grateful for a land so fair
As we raise our voices in a solemn prayer:
God Bless AMERICA, land that I love
Stand beside her, and guide her,
Through the night with a light from above.
From the mountains, to the prairies, to the oceans
White with foam.
God Bless AMERICA, my home sweet home,
God Bless AMERICA, my home sweet home!
Motivated me enough to buy a new flag and some piano sheet music. If it’s anything like “Happy Birthday to you,” I’m pretty sure I’ll have a hell of a time trying to make any sense of it.
“Life’s tough; but it’s tougher when you’re stupid.” – John Wayne
Sometimes, when I reflect on our national debt, student loans, trade policies, banking regulations, Federal Reserve, school system, prison system, drug and healthcare policies, government aid programs… as I consider our political parties, monopolies, mortgage and financial industries, and military presence across the globe, I wonder how free we are…
“Peace, Commerce, and honest friendship with all nations. Entangling alliances with none.” – Thomas Jefferson
Happy Independence Day!
Yours in Faith for a better America and a better world.
“Experience hath shewn, that even under the best forms, those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny; and it is believed that the most effectual means of preventing this would be, to illuminate, as far as practicable, the minds of the people at large.” – Thomas Jefferson
Last week, my church Pastor said now was the time of the year when Pastors walk their dogs, talk to God, and create their SMART goals for next year (Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Readily Achievable, and Timely). Seeing how he was taking some time to think, I thought I’d let my mind wander as well.
“If the Bank really be a grievance, why is it that no one of the real people is found to ask redress of it? The truth is, no such oppression exists. If it did, our table would groan with memorials and petitions, and we would not be permitted to rest day or night, till we had put it down.” – Abraham Lincoln
The Senate’s Audit the Fed vote was today and, as people today are crying foul, watching helplessly as trillions of their dollars are given to bankers, and as Abe’s birthday is again approaching, I thought it appropriate to look at January 11, 1837, President Abraham Lincoln rising to deliver his Speech concerning the State Bank to Illinois’ State Legislature.
“Some gentlemen have the stock in their hands, while others, who have more money than they know what to do with, want it; and this, and this alone, is the question, to settle which we are called on to squander thousands of the people’s money. What interest, let me ask, have the people in the settlement of this question? What difference is it to them whether the stock is owned by Judge Smith or Sam. Wiggins? If any gentleman be entitled to stock in the Bank, which he is kept out of possession of by others, let him assert his right in the Supreme Court, and let him or his antagonist, whichever may be found in the wrong, pay the costs of suit. It is an old maxim and a very sound one, that he that dances should always pay the fiddler. Now, sir, in the present case, if any gentlemen, whose money is a burden to them, choose to lead off a dance, I am decidedly opposed to the people’s money being used to pay the fiddler.” – Abraham Lincoln
When I started my quest, a banker friend of mine sent me a note, “I took your journey back when I was 35. The problem with peeling an onion is, the more layers you peel, the more it stinks.” Attached with his note was the book, “Currency Wars.” I’ve never been the same.
“These capitalists work harmoniously and in concert to fleece the people.” – Abraham Lincoln
Dear Abe, since you left they created a Federal Reserve composed only of big bankers, whose profits they’ve guaranteed by making the people liable for them. They’ve created “covered” transactions, made foreign dealings un-auditable by our Congress, and removed silver or gold from our legal tender. Your nation now owes more than the rest of the world combined. What do we do now? I thought a look at S2232, Audit the Fed, might be illuminating.
“Be sincere; be brief; be seated.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt
So what is Audit the Fed? What is Bill S2232?
Audit the Fed bill advocates:
a) striking everything after “in writing” of subsection b of section 714 of Title 31, and
b) striking subsection f in its entirety.
What does that mean? The links are above, but I’ve also pasted the application sections below. Read for yourself, but to my pea brain, it sounds like it allows an actual Audit by Congress, the ones who created the Federal Reserve, the ones who are charged with managing our purse strings, the very ones we count on to be ‘in the know.’ Why would ‘transactions for or with a foreign bank, government of a foreign country, or non-private international financing organization’ be exempt from purview? Elizabeth Warren, you truly seem to be for the people. Harry Reid, Bob Corker, somebody, please tell us why the 80% of Americans who support a full audit of the Federal Reserve are wrong. Why don’t you support Audit the Fed?
“The basis of our political system is the right of the people to make and to alter their constitutions of government.” – George Washington
(b) Under regulations of the Comptroller General, the Comptroller General shall audit an agency, but may carry out an onsite examination of an open insured bank or bank holding company only if the appropriate agency has consented in writing. Audits of the Board and Federal reserve banks may not include—
(1) transactions for or with a foreign central bank, government of a foreign country, or nonprivate international financing organization;
(2) deliberations, decisions, or actions on monetary policy matters, including discount window operations, reserves of member banks, securities credit, interest on deposits, and open market operations;
(3) transactions made under the direction of the Federal Open Market Committee; or
(4) a part of a discussion or communication among or between members of the Board and officers and employees of the Federal Reserve System related to clauses (1)–(3) of this subsection.
2. (f) Audits of Credit Facilities of the Federal Reserve System.—
(1) Definitions.—In this subsection, the following definitions shall apply:
(A) Credit facility.—
The term “credit facility” means a program or facility, including any special purpose vehicle or other entity established by or on behalf of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System or a Federal reserve bank, authorized by the Board of Governors under section 13(3) of the Federal Reserve Act (12 U.S.C. 343), that is not subject to audit under subsection (e).
(B) Covered transaction.—
The term “covered transaction” means any open market transaction or discount window advance that meets the definition of “covered transaction” in section 11(s) of the Federal Reserve Act.
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
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
“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.
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
“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
“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.
“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.” –
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.
“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…
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.
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