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You Cannot Get There From Here
by Alex Hutchins

America’s problem is one of AFFLUENT APATHIC GREED which none of these again “so called” experts have addressed but is so prevalent that it is literally destroying not just the fabric of our economy but the fabric of our republic and her Bill of Rights freedoms. So, let me, this non-expert, explain. Our free market enterprise, economic system while not perfect is and must be based, in part, upon greed; otherwise, it will simply cease to function from the standpoint of economic growth which is its underlying but unspoken principle. Therefore, it is this greed that pushes it forward or people’s innate desire to always want more or to always want what they do not have. Our marketing and advertising industry has worked that angle to perfection over the years as they have drawn upon Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs by answering a basic question: What do I want? Coke is it, was only one of those responses.

However, because America had to supply the rest of the world with goods and services after WWII, our economic growth (greed and all) grew “unchecked” and at an unprecedented rate for years and got to the point where the American people expected it and it is from that expectation that we, Americans, grew apathetic. We wanted and expected results and did not really care or think about what our leaders did to get us there, wherever there is, still it happened and with the skill of a brain surgeon. And, as the baby boomers grew older, some of us realized that both parents had to work and it was not simply because women wanted in the marketplace, but because the family needed both incomes, resulting in the children of those baby boomers to be put into daycare or left alone after school.

American families were mobile and began moving away from family and friends and church and as more females entered the workplace, divorce statistics started to rise to the 50% point where they are today (the date of this posting). Northerners or workers in metropolitan areas, on average, received higher wages than their Southern or rural counterparts which not only caused changes in the marketplace due to relocation (northerners to the south) but caused financial discrepancies to exist between city and county school districts, with county schools receiving less money for education. Focus shifted from education to the trades, such as: electrician, carpenter, construction, plumber, etc. Soon, these trades’ people, especially in the South, were generating more annual income than college graduates.

As demand for goods increased, America responded by increasing prices before increasing the supply as greed distorted their entrepreneurial mindset of reasonable prices with a reasonable profit. Our predilection for greed grew unchecked as “pure” economic theories no longer worked to regulate our growing economy. America’s greed was also manifested in the fact that we began to import more than we exported and still do to this day creating an extremely wealthy class outside of America. Additionally, America’s thirst for gasoline was also creating a wealthy class among middle eastern countries as well. America was beginning to lose her wealth and no one of the “so called” experts did anything or said anything to rein her in. Status quo life in America caused her to shift into apathy, an affluent apathy as we simply expected it to be this way for the rest of our lives.

Americans and to some degree America’s mainstream media is focusing on the 1% that controls a majority of the wealth in this country, and I understand their frustrations because I too was unemployed (during a ten year period more than employed) and can appreciate the fact that the little people, us, are the ones who are directly responsible for their being in the 1%. Sadly, our focus is not on the 29% just below them because we made them wealthy as well. So, if we, as middle class Americans (whose ranks are most definitely shrinking) are after the wealthy, let’s go after those who annually earn (without deductions) in excess of $500,000 each year? I suggest this because it would be much easier and more within our grasp to target their wealth than the 1% who are protected by everything for which this country stands.

Another fallacy promoted by these politically respected economic fatalists is the notion that America is going down and folks, America will never go down! Wealth is simply being redistributed in America while at the same time throughout the world. As banks fail, credit unions grow and theoretically should hire the layoff bank employees if they do not return to school for alternate education. As new car sales decline, companies that maintain cars, grow and theoretically hire the layoff auto workers if they do not decide to return to school for alternate education. This, my friends, is our economic free market enterprise system at its best and what has happened in America for the last 110 years.

Let’s look at the rest of the world which grew economically because Americans bought their products, just as Americans helped push other Americans into the 1%. Most of our products, believe it or not, are made in China or some other country because of cheap labor which helps Americans keep their cost of living down. As mentioned earlier, America’s love affair with gasoline has resulted in many Arabs becoming billionaires and our consumption does not seem to be letting up. I again wonder where our “so called” experts were to warn us that this would happen as they pushed this country towards alternatives.

America will never fail, she is simply going through a divorce; a divorce from the economic growth marriage that made her great to being single until she gains her strength. At the risk of mixing my metaphors, let me explain it from a sports analogy perspective. America lost finally lost a championship game and will need to return to the basics that made her great, so that she can become competitive and return to the championship game in the future. Affluent apathetic greed caused her to lose to a world with less talent but who had a greater motivation to win.

Justice for All
by Alex Hutchins
“…one nation under God…” was added to the Pledge of Allegiance in 1954 when legislation was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Eisenhower, the General of WWII fame. After WWII, every viable economy in the world had been destroyed except for the economy of America who now had the responsibility to “grow” the rest of the world, and it did so for the next 30 years with remarkable success; in fact, the success was so great that other countries of the world began to serious compete with America and some were actually building products better than America.

Our political was managed by 2 parties, the Democrats and the Republicans that basically wanted America’s success to continue but had 2 different approaches as to how that success should happen. However, somewhere in flight, the eagle lost its way and while America’s economic success continued its rise, all the interaction of forces that precipitated that rise began to intermingle and become self-distorting. The white-headed eagle had been caught and tethered, gradually becoming less and less responsible to those who at one time had made her great with their blood, sweat, and tears.

For 200 years (1776-1976), America was a land of hope and opportunity but for only 22 years was she a nation under God and it is shortly after that proclamation that she began to drift. Our Founding Fathers were willing to risk their lives over that in which they believed and created a country, that in the beginning cared and took care of each other; making a little bit of a profit so support growth and always taking chances regardless of the political or business climate.

Today, our simple and sweet Pledge of Allegiance, falls short of expectations because, in my opinion, our Justice for all phrase simply does not work anymore.  We have protestors in the streets and parks of most of our major cities.  We have our court system convicting the innocent while letting the guilty go free.  We have racism as a hidden agenda on the minds of many white Americans as poverty touches more and more blacks and Hispanics.  We have athletic coaches molesting our youth while other coaches have no tolerance for listening to the feedback of their players.  A CBS news correspondent interviews successful people as to how to make the country better but ignores the cries from those who are already unemployed while at the same time airing a segment on 60 Minutes as to how Congress is and has been bought-off.

Businessmen and women will tell you that the climate is uncertain both in the short term and in the long term which prevents them from hiring people and investing in expansion; yet, foreign businessmen and women are doing exactly that in America. So, what seems to be the difference?

What has caused America and Americans, both wealthy and poor, to have become the nation it now is where “…justice for all” is no longer something for which we strive?

• Is it greed?

• Is it the lack of taking responsibility?

• Is it the lack of accountability?

Do we know what it really is and more importantly, do we really care what it is if it were to be discovered?

I am reminded of a conversation that I had recently with a local football team and the response they gave me after I asked them why they were losing so many games when I witnessed such obvious talent on the field. After some soul searching, they admitted that as a group they had informed the coach that the 3rd string quarterback was much better and had more respect from his teammates than the other two. The coach ignored the comments, saying that a lot of time and money had been invested in the other two and that he was going to make it work. Once the 1st and 2nd string quarterbacks got hurt and the coach had no choice but to put in his 3rd stringer, what happen was that the team started to win.

My first thought was no if the team was right or not but why do we, as a nation and individually, think that a person of position or power or wealth or education are the ones to which we must turn to for all our answers?

Any soccer mom housewife will tell you (you being whoever you want it to be) that if a family spends more than it earns, the financial consequences are potentially negative. That same housewife will tell you that if you need debt, make sure your income will cover the payments as well as provide you with a “nest egg” for a rainy day. Any housewife will tell you that you should always use coupons and keep your house clean in case you have unexpected visitors. Any housewife will tell you that when new neighbors arrive, you should take over to them a house-warming gift, letting them know you welcome them into the neighborhood. Any housewife will tell you that carpooling is good and if you borrow a cup of sugar from your neighbor to return a pound.

My all time favorite housewife expression is: do unto others as you would have them do unto you, which I believe is called The Golden Rule. And, the soccer mom housewife to which my comments refer, is my Mother who is still alive at 91. These are the values she taught me in the 1950’s when America and her eagle were flying high in the sky over both the USA and the rest of the world. It was a time when America listened to her people not just those who had power, wealth, position, or education. It is time for Americans to take back their country and not wait for the 1st or 2nd string quarterbacks to get hurt, or wait for Congress to quit playing politics, or for the wealthy and top educated talking heads to diplomatically tell us what we need to do.

Unemployment has been at 9% for about 2 years and businessmen continue to say that they are waiting for the proper climate to exist in this country and around the world before they will start hiring and expanding; while at the same time they sit atop record profits paying their shareholders high yielding dividends. Are you guys and gals for real? Do you actually expect Americans to believe that horse crap?

With the lowest approval rating in the history of America, Congressmen and women and Senators continue to exploit the voter’s lack of unity and power by doing nothing to solve the 2 year old unemployment problem because it could jeopardize their next election. Are you guys and gals for real? Do you actually expect Americans to believe than horse crap?

It would appear, at least to me that our most wealthy, our politicians, our people of power, and our most educated, either do not understand or do not want to understand that: 
  • Americans are doing what their leaders taught them to do
  • America’s high school education system is no longer the greatest
  • Almost 20% of Americans are unemployed or underemployed or have quit looking
  • OPEC oil continues to take massive amounts of money out of this country
  • America is losing the war on drugs and our children’s drug habits are increasing
  • Racism is still very much prevalent in America
  • China’s economy is growing faster than the economy of America
  • Americans have lost faith and trust in their leaders
  • Our nation under God has a 50% divorce rate

Justice for all is a joke

Wealth in America

Redistribution of Wealth

By Alex Hutchins

Jim Hightower, in an OP-ED piece entitled, The Disuniting of America, mentions the insidious nature of greed and the Apostle Paul does not say that money is the root of all evil but the love of money is what he warns against. Mr. Hightower continues by warning the reader of the growing chasm of difference between the wealthy and the not so wealthy and poor and that this ever widening difference will cause problems in this country and ends by mentioning the word, Egalitarianism as the real America. In essence Mr. Hightower favors the redistribution of wealth.

It appears to this writer that two key words need to be further explained and those 2 words are: Egalitarianism and Redistribution of Wealth.

Egalitarianism is a trend of thought in political philosophy. An egalitarian favors equality of some sort: People should get the same, or be treated the same, or be treated as equals, in some respect. Egalitarian doctrines tend to express the idea that all human persons are equal in fundamental worth or moral status. So far as the Western European and Anglo-American philosophical tradition is concerned, one significant source of this thought is the Christian notion that God loves all human souls equally. Egalitarianism is a protean doctrine, because there are several different types of equality, or ways in which people might be treated the same, that might be thought desirable. In modern democratic societies, the term "egalitarian" is often used to refer to a position that favors, for any of a wide array of reasons, a greater degree of equality of income and wealth across persons than currently exists.

Redistribution of Wealth is sometimes referred to as the Robin Hood Scenario whereby a society takes money away from the rich and redistributes that money to the poor. However, the redistribution of money can take place in other ways as well. For example, due to our consumption of gasoline, American Wealth has been given to OPEC participating countries. Another example is the consumption of life insurance, where American Wealth has been given to Insurance Companies. Another example of redistribution of wealth is from Americans to the Pharmaceutical Companies. Typically, the redistribution of wealth from a Governmental perspective is to extract money from the wealth via taxes and redistribute those money to the rest of the citizens through Government expenditures.

Mr. Hightower is correct when he points out that America’s 1% have received 275% increase in their incomes while all the rest of us have received far less than that. So, it is Mr. Hightowers belief that if we do not redistribute the wealth from the 1% to the other 99% that America could be facing serious consequences, one of which, in my opinion, could be a “civil war.” And, the last concern we need in America is the fear of a “civil war.” But, how is a family going to feed its family, if they have no savings and no job and no unemployment insurance?

However, can we target the 1% for increased taxes and not be accused of discrimination. Based upon the legal definition below, it would seem like, to this writer, that we would be making a consideration that makes a distinction against a category of people to which 1% of the people belong.

Discrimination refers to the treatment or consideration of, or making a distinction in favor of or against, a person or thing based on the group, class, or category to which that person or thing belongs rather than on individual merit. Discrimination can be the effect of some law or established practice that confers privileges on a certain class or denies privileges to a certain class because of race, age, sex, nationality, religion, or handicap. Federal law, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, prohibits employment discrimination based on any one of those characteristics. Other federal statutes, supplemented by court decisions, prohibit discrimination in voting rights, housing, credit extension, public education, and access to public facilities. State laws also provide further protection against discrimination.

Another concern that this writer has is, if we do increase and target the 1% for a tax increase to redistribute the wealth, what would the US Government do, if China demanded that the excess money be paid to them because they own 1/3 of US debt? As the head of a household, if you received a gift of money, would you pay of your family’s debt or buy your children some toys?

Another question: Would the US Government be setting a dangerous precedent if they were to target the 1% for a redistribution of wealth? That is to say, would the next step be to target the top 2%, then the top 3%, and then the top 4%, etc.? Would we then set limits on all income above a certain amount? Would we initiate a fair tax or a flat tax for everyone? At what point would the redistribution of wealth stop because it stifles economic growth? Would the US Government stipulate that this redistribution of wealth must be spent on goods and services from which only the US would benefit? If so, then, this increase in income could not be spent on gasoline or foreign automobiles, or imported wines, and beers, because to do so would redistribute the money again, but this redistribution would send the money outside the US where it is needed the most.

This writer most definitely agrees with Mr. Hightower that the redistribution of wealth to the 1% is going to cause serious consequences for the US; but, there has always been a 1% at the top in this country. To simply redistribute the wealth is not going to remove the root cause of the problem which is GREED. Greed is so prevalent in this country that it permeates every facet of our society from the wealthy to the poor, in different ways but it is still there. America needs to find a way to curtail Greed which is going to be difficult because the Government is the worst culprit.

It is also this writer’s fear that if the US redistributes the wealth from the 1% to the 99% that in a few years, the problem will resurface again, because it appears that “greed” is inherent in all Americans regardless of income levels.

The Bible has 250 verses that pertain to money. In fact Jesus told a story of talons. “This story mentions a master who rewards one of his servants for using the money his master left him to make more money, by investing it. The slave that chose to bury his talons in the ground, to hide and protect them was considered to be slothful and wicked.” But even the Bible does not believe that greed is appropriate. “Yea, they are greedy dogs which can never have enough, and they are shepherds that cannot understand: they all look to their own way, every one for his gain, from his quarter” (Isaiah 56:11).
So, why do we live in a country with family and friends where greed is our mantra?

Well, all of this may be true, but what do we do NOW? We have 9.1% unemployment and probably 18% if the underemployed and those who have given up finding employment are counted – almost 20% of our current working population. We have senior citizens who have been promised social security, medicare/medicade, and an opportunity to continue their pursuit of happiness as guaranteed in the Declaration of Independence. We have 1% of our population receiving 17% of the available income in the US. To this writer, this is morally repugnant, but on the other side of the coin, our previous apathy has allowed it to happen. Just below the 1%, we have another group of people, in the top 2-5% of the wealthy that are trying to get into the ranks of the 1% by lying to the American people. This lying includes withholding critical information as well as providing misleading information to persuade and convince, and we (the general public) have no reason to doubt but are also full of greed ourselves, so we simply trust without doing our due diligence. Of course, this is a generalization.

Another question to answer before we can decide what to do, is will the general public resort to violence to protest being in the 99%? If the answer to that question is yes, then our Government has no choice but to respond and put something into place immediately. We can assume that our Congress (House and Senate) is pretty much impotent when it comes to doing anything outside of party politics. We can also assume that our Government cannot force businesses and corporations to simply hire the unemployed Americans; neither can we expect foreign businesses and corporations to hire our unemployed workers.

Therefore, the only solution that is left to our Government is to simultaneously raise taxes and reduce expenses across the board. If we simply target the rich, our Government may be guilty of discriminatory practices, so the tax increase must be uniform. Or, we could consider a flat tax or a fair tax as an alternative to our present tax system. Our Government’s actions must be swift and decisive. A reduction of across the board expenses is also warranted which would not only redistribute the wealth but redistribute the burden and the pain of that burden as well.

America is by far the most magnificent country in the world and needs to remain number 1 in that position and distinction. We should continue to provide military assistance to the rest of the world when asked, and we should continue to lead the world’s battle against terrorism. America should continue to wage war on drugs and protect our boarders from foreign aggression. America should learn to balance its budget and should never borrow. America should always take care of its senior citizens, its sick, and its poor but not at the risk of jeopardizing our free-market enterprise system that leads the world in GDP and commerce. While the trade imbalance may have been acceptable in the past as a way of helping growing economies survive, it is no longer in the best interest of this country to continue that policy; so we should seriously find a way to export more than we import. America should continue to protect the environment and should lead the world in reducing global warming. America should strongly encourage the exploration and use of alternative energy resources, not just provide “tongue-in-cheek” comments or lip-service.

The wealthy should bear (proportionally) the same financial responsibility as the general public bears in paying their taxes. Whether that means to curtail all deductions or simply reduce them, I cannot say but fair is fair. We, as a people, must understand that it is the worker that helps the rich get rich. It is the worker that helps the stockholder receives his or her dividends each quarter. It is the worker that does the work so that the Executives can receive their bonuses.

What this writer has discovered in his 42 year business career is that the worker that is the closest to the customer, in general, receives the least amount of money. It is not the supervisor that operates the machine that creates the part but the worker. The supervisor is there mainly to make sure that the worker does not stop working. Here is an example of how this works. This writer worked as a CSR for Whirlpool Factory Service and stopped many customers from switching to another supplier because their washer or dryer was not made or repaired very well. Over a lifetime, a loyal customer spends $20-25,000 over a lifetime. Our companies build washers and dryers now so that they have to be replaced every 3-5 years on average. During a 50 year period of time, customers may purchase 10 washers and dryers. I received $8/hour talking on the phone, saving that customer and receive no percentage of the potential stream of income that Whirlpool is now in a position to receive. Is this fair? No. So, call takers have no incentive to save a customer.

Let me remind the reader that Labor Unions were started because companies refused to take care of their workers. If companies will not take care of their workers and the workers are powerless to influence the companies to take care of them, then the Government has no choice but to step in and influence these companies through regulations. It is nothing personal, just business.

Wondering means:

  • feeling of expressing awe, admiration, amazement, or surprise.
  • a desire or be curious about to know something.
  • used to express a polite question or request.

Like Paul Simon's song, Still crazy after all these years, I am still wondering after all these years? Wondering about what, you might ask. And, if you did, I would answer, about:

1. Why has America's education system deteriorated?

2. Why is America's divorce rate lingering at 50%?

3. Why is there still so much poverty in America?

4. Why does professional sports still draw the crowds that they do?

5. Why do both parents have to work to support a family?

6. Why are some churches hiding behind a tax-exempt status?

7. What happened to the heroes I grew up with in the 50's and 60's?

8. Why haven't our tax codes been revised yet?

9. Why is America still fighting other people's wars

10. Why are college degrees still so important to do jobs that were done by hs graduates before?

Have we lost our sense of wondering and just accepted the status quo?

But, all in all, I think Edgar Allen Poe said it best,

          Deep into that darkness peering,

          long, I stood there, wondering,

          fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams

          no mortal ever dared to dream before.

Another Bucket Story
When I was about 19 years old, I remember driving over to see my best friend Vic one Saturday morning and when I arrived at his house, I saw he and his father out in the front yard planting a tree. I got out of the car and the three of us began to talk. In the course of that conversation, I mentioned that I was going to create a situation with my employers that they would not ever want to terminate me...

As with every storyteller, the following phrase is used, "to make a long story short," let me say... Vic's father told me to stick my hand in a bucket of water (which I did) and remove it (which I did) and then said, "you will be as important to a company as the hole that you left in the bucket of water when you removed your hand."

I never forgot that bucket story and have told it often to people with whom I have worked and supervised and to people with whom I have not worked or supervised, including my students. Many of those who hear my story, were like me when I first heard that story at 19. They find it hard to believe or they think, as their supervisor, I am trying to get them to read between the lines.

You will hear people say that the name of the game for business is to "make money." Well, that may initially be true, but if that company does not survive, making money is irrelevant. And, no matter how good you think you are or no matter how much you think you have contributed, there is always going to be someone who comes along who is better or contributes more. This is true in professional sports, music, the theater and cinema, in business, and in many marriages.

So, when someone leaves or dies, the world does not end and a company does not dissolve, like Apple. Business and the world continues and while it is wonderful to remember those close to us who have "passed away;" I always have the same concern when someone dies who is well known, like Steve Jobs, because there are many poor people, I would suspect, that died of pancreatic cancer, about which no one cares...

Our American Dream
Many Americans are like this bear just barely keeping their heads above water.
The future (our leaders promised us and who we trusted) for which we prepared is no longer there. Yes, most of us did prepare by investing in accounts that we perceived would be there for us in the future and with good stewardship would have been there for us, but are not. Bill Gates and Sam Walton lost billions because of what a handful of these misfits did to Americans, but those not so lucky to be at the financial level of those 2, not only lost thousands but lost their future, just like the bear.

Should we feel sorry for these people who were robbed by a reverse Robin Hood or just chalk it up to "life in a free-market enterprise economic system?" I guess that depends on how we perceive ourselves and our country, doesn't it?

What does it mean to be human?

Some of us might say that being human is being created in the image of God.

Some of us might say that being human is to share DNA structures.

Some of us might it is being able to think.

Whether we are religious or not, we have all heard that Jesus said, "love thy neighbor as thyself," so is doing that what makes us human? My parents taught me to "do unto others as you would have them do unto you," which is very similar.

So, if we are not completely sure at this point, what being human is, let's explore what it is not.

1. I do not think being human is being greedy.

2. I do not think being human is ignoring or writing off our senior citizens.

3. I do not think being human is lying to our neighbors.

4. I do not think that being human is taking advantage of those who have less than us.

5. I do not think being human is being racist.

6. I do not think that being human is ignoring the importance of education.

7. I do not think that being human is marketing products to consumers that we know will be harmful.

8. I do not think that being human is not wanting to take care of the sick.

9. I do not think that being human gives us the right to lie,

10. I do not think that being human is stealing the property of others.

Whether these political cartoons are funny or not funny, they were inserted to get the reader's attention to look beyond this next election and suggest that we look both into the "here and now" as well as into the future. We, as a people, need to take care of our brothers and sisters so that they can take care of the next generation. We also need to look into the future for our children and our children's children.

• Why should we elect officials who steal from the pubic treasury?

• Why should we elect officials who will not enforce all people paying their fair share into the public treasury?

• Why should we elect officials who will not provide defense of this country?

• Why should we elect officials who will not take care of the elderly or the sick?

• Why should we elect officials who will provide educational opportunities to all Americans?

• Why should we elect officials who will not regulate business and stop outrageous greed?

• Why should we elect officials who will not help Americans compete in the global marketplace?

• Why should we elect officials who will not support immigration that historically made America great?

• Why should we elect officials who will not reach a compromise with other elected officials?

• Why should we elect officials who allow lobbyists to control Congressional outcomes?

I think being human is our capacity and need to take care of and provide for our family in a compassionate and reasonable manner that allows for respect and dignity. I think being human is not just seeing our family as our birth family or married family but as our American Family. But, that is just me...

There needs to be a grassroots movement in this country that:

1. moves money from banks into credit unions.

2. causes drivers to reduce their speed on the highway to conserve gas consumption.

3. stops purchases from companies who employ foreigners over Americans.

4. stops purchases from auto companies that do not invest in hydrogen cars.

5. stops voting for politicians that do not support immediate implementation of solar energy.

6. prevents companies from making annual profits over 6%.

7. prevents drug companies from pricing medicine more than 5% above manufacturing costs.

8. prevents advertisers from promoting services that puts Americans in a financial risk.

9. forces Congress to pay a law that prevents individuals and families from spending more than they earn.

10. forces a work week of 30 hours to improve unemployment.

11. Congressmen and Senators should only serve 1 - 4 year term.

12. no employee should make more than $240,000 annually, includes professional athletes and movie stars, physicians, dentists, stoke brokers, etc.

13. church property should be taxed.

14. flat tax of 15% for everyone and no deductions.

15. every State should have a 10-12% sales tax.

16. health care should be made available to everyone and the budget should be adjusted to accommodate.

17. manufacturers should be required to make products that last longer than their warranties.

18. no entrance exams should be required to go to any College or University.

19. absolutely no Government bailouts.

20. no one in America should ever be homeless or go with food and clothes.

Well then, all of America can enjoy the American Dream together...

It Is What It Is

Several weeks ago, when my friend Vic and I started our We Were Wondering Blog, one of my first posts suggested that we (being we the people of America) should start a grassroots movement to remove all of our elected officials and put new ones in their place who were more responsive and more “in tune” with the American electorate. Subsequent to but not because of, a movement was launched in this country, starting on the streets of New York City, specifically Wall Street, protesting the “ills” of this great nation, and rightly so some would argue while others would take the opposing view that these people are merely societal outcasts who certainly do not deserve our attention, especially with their belligerent protesting which, while guaranteed in the US Constitution, is certainly not appreciated nor condoned by the vast majority. But, opinions are like “rear ends,” everybody has got one.

“Chance favors the prepared,” is a common quote that many successful people use quite often to demonstrate their hard work attaining a position at the top or near the top. However, it is interesting to note that “Chance also favors the unprepared.” Those who just happened to be in the right place at the right time, regardless of how prepared they may or may not have been. For example, I recently got fired from my position in one State and upon returning to my, now, home State, found another job within 15 weeks of my initial separation which, through no preparation on my own, I simply sent an email to a local school to see if they had any adjunct positions. Due to the fact that this school was experiencing a financially negative situation, my employment saved them money.

However, one might argue that I was in fact prepared for this due to my experience of 18 years in upper management and 18 years of experience in middle management. This is more of a consequence than it is “chance favoring the prepared.”

Currently, the United States and the rest of the world is experiencing a financial meltdown brought about by chance favoring our prepared greed, disrespect of ourselves and of America. Those of us who were fortunate enough to be born as “baby boomers” into the middle class lived “high on the hog” for many years, living the American Dream, earning 6 figure incomes and spending our monies as some economists would refer to as “conspicuous consumption.” My mother’s favorite poet, Edna St. Vincent Milay, said it best:

          I burn my candles at both ends
          It may not last the night
          But ah my friends
          And woe my foes
          It gives a pretty light.

How brightly our candles have burned for the last 40 years (1960-2000) give or take a few years. How brightly have the candles of our politicians burned.

How brightly have the candles of our media burned.

How bright have the candles of our businesses, banks, and real estate burned.

How brightly have the candles of our Churches and Education institutions burned.

How brightly have the candles of our military burned in other countries of the world.

How brightly have the candles of our enemies burned.

For 40 years, America has illuminated the rest of the world with her light; a light that had the rest of the world in awe but a light that also created an “envious anger,” and animosity. And, as our Diplomatic Pouches bring hope and salvation to many parts of the world, other parts of the world desperately want what we have and are willing to pay a high price to get there.

Meanwhile, we protest (as is our right and well within our rights) the ills of the country; ills that

we perceive our leaders should have warned us about year ago. We are angry at those businessmen and women who took advantage of and exploited our selfishness and greed, especially in the financial and real estate arenas. Anywhere from 50%-75% of our personal financial wealth (on which we were counting in retirement) has been destroyed; not just destroyed but will never be recaptured (to use a military term) in our lifetime. That should and does piss off a bunch of Americans.

While we have to rethink, refocus, and do without, chance does favors the wealthy who were prepared for this financial crisis with the millions that they were allowed to save in “off shore” un-taxed bank accounts, typically in the Grand Caymans and Switzerland.

Pissed off Americans are angry at our leaders and for good reason. Being “pissed off” some might say is better than being “pissed on,” but our leaders have done that to us as well. Some of us, have:

Lost our jobs
• Lost our savings
• Lost our homes
• Lost our trust
• Lost our faith and hope
• Lost our patience

But, what can we do?

How do we prepare so that chance can favor us? What can we, the American people, do, when everyone (a huge generalization) lies:

• Our Government lies…
• Our Politicians lie…
• Our Businesses lie…
• Our Church leaders lie…
• Our Sports Heroes lie…

My suggestion is over-simplified but we must see our current situation as, “It is what it is.” Life has never been fair and it never was intended to be fair. Chance favors the wealthy and the powerful. Every once in a while, someone moves from the bottom, through the middle, and reaches the top, but those situations are rare. We, as Americans, must learn to do the opposite of what our Leaders suggest that we do. For example,

• When advertisements say spend your money, you should save.

• When advertisements promote smoking or alcohol, you should resist.

• When advertisements say you should invest, you should not.

• When advertisements say you should get this credit card, you should not.

• When advertisements say buy this new car, you should not.

If “chance does favor the prepared,” then look at our current economic situation.

• People cannot afford buying new homes, so perhaps refurbishing what they already have will be the new trend. If so, then this would favor: carpenters, plumbers, electricians, carpet layers, etc.

• People cannot afford to buy new cars, so keeping current cars longer will be the new trend. If so, then this favors auto mechanics.

• Birth rates among some minorities is on the rise, so if this trend continues then this favors children’s toys, clothes, and daycare facilities.

• With all the computers, cell phones, and hand held devices in the economy, repairing those devices rather than buying new may be in a further option.

• With the cost of automobiles and repairs, perhaps a bicycle shop will attract interest.

• Maybe an entrepreneurial business exists in the areas of: Solar Panels, Bamboo Furniture, Animal Hotels when owners are on vacation.

Life, unfortunately or fortunately, is what it is and we, as Americans, should understand that fact and learn to take care of ourselves and our families. Life goes on around us as if our economy has no concerns or apprehensions at all. Politicians who want to be President are spending millions of dollars into the economy. The World Series in baseball is taking place and generating millions of dollars in sales tax revenues. Restaurant parking lots are full. Movie theaters are full. Foreign countries are opening up new stores in the US. Americans are putting gasoline into their cars and NASCAR race tracts are full of fans.

Whether America has a small Federal Government or a large Federal Government is not the issue anymore because both Democrats and Republicans are millionaires and are not really in sync with middle class or poor Americans. The bigger questions are:

• Should the wealthy pay more in taxes

• Should business and commerce be tightly regulated

• Should small business (100 employees or less) be protected

• Should jobs stay in US at same or lower wages

• Should healthcare be provided to all Americans

• Should we send military troops into foreign countries

Millionaire politicians have no sense of urgency, except on the election trail, with the concerns of American; if they do at the beginning of their terms they are soon influenced by the “magic of Washington.”

It is what it is, describes my personal feelings about what I see in this country. The general public will always be controlled by an elite few. That is just the way it is and will always be. Businesses will always be more concerned with profits than with people and as a stockholder you place yourself in a better position to understand that. Retirement programs (EVERYWHERE) invest in companies that are making a profit. So, while some people are hurt by the bottom line, other people benefit by such practices and that has always been, the way it is.

Americans by nature (and on average) are:

          Rules Breakers
          Risk Takers
          Shirk responsibilities
          Live Large

These are the characteristics and behaviors that have made America great over the years and that have created a lifestyle about which the rest of the world is envious and wants to emulate. These characteristics and behaviors have one critical concept in common and that is: we do not rely on others to tell us what to do. And, it is precisely that concept that will extricate Americans from this financial and situational down turn It is what it is encapsulates that American Spirit.


Global News from the BBC

The US Senate has blocked a key piece of President Barack Obama's jobs bill that would have imposed higher taxes on the rich to help create jobs for teachers, police and emergency workers.
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Brazil's central bank has cut the country's key interest rate to 11.5% from 12%, citing the continuing slowdown in the global economy.  Read More

It has been 20 years since India adopted free-market policies and opened up its economy to the world.  Read More

Drainage ditch from which Kaddafi was removed

Bad News for Americans

When Dave McClure, a venture capital investor from Silicon Valley, spoke at an internet entrepreneurs’ club in China last week, he had a lot of praise for his hosts.

“Chinese entrepreneurs are most likely smarter and more aggressive than [those] in the US,” he told the audience. “Beijing is one of the few places in the world where the pace of innovation is faster than in Silicon Valley.”

But in China, the recent mood has been more sober. The death of Apple founder Steve Jobs this month triggered rounds of soul-searching over why the country lacks technology entrepreneurs as successful as Mr Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, who came up with products that changed the world.