Stand Up America
 

Welcome

A huge THANKS to all of your who periodically return to read and comment on my personal (nearly 70 year old) viewpoints. I am humbled.

StandUpAmerica.info

is a web log (Blog) which I created to share with you things that I have found that folks, like you and me, can do to help us feel better about our own future. Some things are deceptively simple to do. Some things are exceptionally difficult. None are radical. None are fringe activities. None are illegal. All are just straight forward activities that we law abiding folks can do to take charge of our future.

This site is still under construction. As events in our country unfold and certain insights make themselves known, I will report on what you can do to take charge (in a little or big way) of your own destiny. You do not have to feel like events are affecting your life without your input.

(The most recent entries are at the bottom of this page)

To Get Started:

It is clear that since the Attacks of Sept 11, we have to learn to be more vigilant of our surroundings. It is not necessary to become a recluse in order to survive in these times. I live in a small (30,000 pop) community and eye contact is the norm. I have lived in big cities where eye contact is avoided in order to survive. Times have changed. Seeing who is around you, what is out of place, or what is not normal, is going to be one of the keys to feeling in control of your future. If you see something that is not 'right', identify an authority that you can report it to. Do not take things into your own hands. Keep out of harm's way. Make the authorities do their job. They know how to handle things and still preserve others' individual rights while protecting you. If they can't or won't handle the situation, then you have yet another 'not right situation' to report to yet another authority. Most of this kind of reporting can be done by email.

Since reporting these 'something is out of the ordinary' observations by email require destination email addresses, it seems like a really good idea to have your local newspaper publish the email addresses of as many community government agencies as they can identify, IN EVERY ISSUE. Some papers are already doing this, to a greater or lesser degree. Is yours? If not, start sending emails to your local paper, have you friends and colleagues do the same. Ask the Editor to publish the email address of every member of community government, from the Mayor, down to Animal Control on the front page of EVERY ISSUE. You need to know who they are and how to get in touch with them if ever you should have to report something 'out of the ordinary' that you observed.


Gas Prices

There isn't anyone that I know who is comfortable with the war. It's not a lack of patriotism. It's not that they don't support our troops. It's just that there's this huge amount being spent, in both monetary and human terms, which is getting harder and harder to justify for even those who initially favored the attack on Iraq.

Make no mistake, this war is about oil.

If our checks and balances were functioning normally, Congress should have intervened on behalf of We, the People, to restrict the President's war powers. But instead, bent over from carrying all the money that big oil has donated to their campaigns and pocketbooks, the House and Senate decided it was in their best interest to wage war and secure profits for big oil. Exxon announced last week that their US PROFITS from oil are at 100 MILLION DOLLARS PER DAY!

Ponder this for a moment: Do you think that if you had the money, you could reasonably expect to be able to buy off the vote of a Representative or a Senator for, say, a million dollars each? I know that you would certainly have my attention if you waved $1 million under my nose.

Consider that we have 435 Representatives and 100 Senators in the US. That's a total of 535 Congressmen, or $535 million in potential payoffs or about 5 DAYS' PROFITS FOR JUST ONE OIL COMPANY!

I'm not telling you that all of Congress is on the take (you get to decide that for yourself). What I am illustrating here is the shear POWER that the oil companies have. And we know that power corrupts. 

A Solution

Now I can't come up with 100 million dollars each day to try to counter the potential oil company payoffs, but I do have a vote. And one thing that will clear a Congressman's mind about who is in charge, is if he thinks that he is going to lose his seat in an election. Because that also means that he is going to lose any chance of payoffs if he is out of office.

So if you are feeling powerless, you really don't need to. You have at you fingertips that ability to make it clear to your Congressmen through emails, that you won't vote for him/her unless (s)he shows you that (s)he is work diligently to eliminate our dependence on fossil fuel, and thereby make the war unnecessary.

The Iraq war is costing us $275 MILLION PER DAY.

The money (not to mention, the lives) we could save by eliminating our presence in Iraq can be put to good use. If Congress had resisted the President's Big Lie about weapons of mass destruction, had authorized a restricted police action aimed at eliminating Sadam for the Iraqi people, then got the heck out of Dodge, it could have invested that $235 Million per day for the past four years (it took us a year to find Sadam) in developing renewable fuel resources.

It took Brazil less than three years to ramp up ethanol (alcohol) production from zero to enough to satisfy 80% of the nation's fuel use. That includes creating a viable efficient sugar beet crop, building distillation facilities (analogous to an oil refineries) and distribution points (E85 can be dispensed by regular gasoline pumps). Detroit has been making E85 (85% alcohol fuel) compatible automobiles for Brazil for the past 10 years (yes SUVs too)! They are already on the assembly line - zero ramp up time.

So Congress could have (actually still can) spent all that war money helping the farmer harvest new alcohol crops, could have spent all that war money helping all those companies that want to build new distilleries, could have spent all that war money helping the auto industry kick start their E85 changeover, could have spent all that war money helping independent gas stations make the changeover to E85 distribution, could have spent that war money helping engineers design retrofit kits for all the gas burning vehicles that are sitting in our driveways.

But Congress didn't have our best interest in mind and caved into the Bush administration. Shame on them.

The result would have been E85 fuel alcohol which costs $.25 per gallon to farm, $.25 per gallon to distill, and $.25 per gallon to distribute (that's $.75 per gallon cost to you at the pump)! Again, too bad, shame on them. And shame on us for letting it happen.

So here are three things that you can do:

1) Email your Congressmen and instruct them to sign on to a renewable fuel resources plan that weans us off of gasoline within THREE years, or you won't vote for them. Simple as that. We don't need ten years to get away from oil dependency, all that does is allow big oil to buy up failing farms so that they can control the alcohol prices like they do oil prices,

2) Email the CEOs of Wal-Mart, Costco, Sam's Club, Home Depot, Lowes, Target, and any other big merchandising business in your area that has large parking lots (typically under utilized) and tell them that they can vastly improve their esteem in the community (they all worry about that) if they simply installed a single E85 pump somewhere in their parking lot and dispensed to their customers. After the first pump paid for itself, add another pump, then another, then another,

3) Email the President of every College and University in this and other countries, and explain that they would immeasurably improve their incoming funding (either by grants, licensing or direct sales) if their (engineering and computer) science departments could design and develop conversion kits for older fuel injected gasoline engines to use E85 ethanol.

You Get The Idea.

I will report soon on more opportunities for you to Take Charge of Your Future.


Housing Bubble Collapse

The Housing crisis is simple to understand. People got greedy. Folks who normally couldn't qualify to own their own home, were given loans anyway. Can you blame them - they wanted a piece of the American Dream, too. 

But unlike most who came before them, they didn't have to pay their dues. They weren't asked to scrimp and save until they had the proper income, savings and credit score to qualify for a real loan. 

Banks (albeit admittedly under pressure from the fed) were having a field day approving loans for which there was insufficient collateral (or character) to secure the loans, and selling off those mortgages ('paper' as it is called) to high risk lenders at a cash discount. 

Banks knew this was wrong, they knew the market was overheated. But making money is their first obligation to their stockholders. 

We've had seven recessions since the gas crunch of the 1970's. All but two of them came from overheated real estate markets. It is a phenomenon well known in the banking community. Each time, folks tighten their belts and make due. A small percentage couldn't make it and foreclosures were inevitable. 

But a huge negative impact of these Housing Bubble collapses were ameliorated by the fact that most home loans where awarded to folks who had enough capital stability to sustain a 'hitch in the git-along'. So that even when housing prices folded back, there were far fewer foreclosures.

Not so this time. These 'thin' loans all but evaporated as housing prices folded back, sending hundreds of thousands of homes into instant foreclosure - why would anyone continue to make mortgage payments on a $500,000 loan on property that was only worth $250,000? Only to be bought up by those who had the wealth to withstand the collapse. Making the rich richer, and the poor poorer.

We are going to continue to have housing bubble collapses. The secret to survival is no secret - don't allow banks to loan against purchases that folks cannot afford, no matter how enticing the banks make it look. Trade that need for instant gratification (of owning your own home) for the long term stability of not losing that home through an economic downturn by paying your dues - making sure you have the money in the bank, you have a stable job, and a backup reserve before making the purchase.

Risk is fine, but Russian Roulette is simply crazy.


The Recession

I don't think that Greenspan or the rest of the Fed for that matter, realized how delicate the balance is between consumer confidence and government (miss-) action.

Greenspan says in a CBS (I think) interview that he didn't know about the Housing Bubble until 'just recently'. Now, no one will refute that he is a really smart man, and has led the treasury with great skill over the years, but honestly, he had no idea that the number one economic engine in the US economy was overheated and underfunded? Sheesh.

We, the People, probably could have held up under one or the other, either the Gas Crunch or the Housing Bubble Collapse, while the war was holding a gun to our heads (or those of our children), but it is clear that we lost confidence in our government when we were hit by both at the same time.

Then it was like dominoes falling:

-The war effort continued hampering our national infrastructure (education and health insurance) development, 
-Gas prices went through the roof (simply because the Emirates could do it),
-Consumers naturally cut back spending,
-Banks, holding billions in 'thin' (underfunded) notes, started up their foreclosure engines,
-Businesses cut back purchases in response to tighter money,
-Manufactures cut back durable goods production in response to consumer spending,
-The poorly run auto industry, crippled by union contracts fabricated in another era, but due and payable now, started to crash and burn, seeking government bailout money,
-The fed uncovered Wall Street's two largest scams in its history,
-Banks, seeing what the auto companies got, started crying their own tune of  'we can't make it without help' while continuing to post consistently high profits,
-And We, the People, can't afford health insurance to protect our families in this, the richest country in the world.

One simply can't ignore that this country is ripe for revolution. Not the one with guns and bullets (although that may be an element), but one of  congressional 'Throw the Bums Out". 

If Ross Perot taught us anything, it is that you CAN get the attention of your government by threatening to take their jobs away.


The Economy Eases

Could it be that after only three years, our economy is showing signs of recovering from this awful recession? Looks like it.

It is interesting that for the last 12 months, the oil companies have held a lid on fuel prices at the pump to under $3/gallon throughout most of the US. That is indeed promising. 

Not so much of a mystery, though, since the alternative was going to be for the oil lobby to have to 'retrain' a huge crop of new congressmen (some even with a conscience) in the ways of the oil companies. That's risky, even for big oil.

So, We the People, got to see what flexing our muscles at the polls could really produce. We have the longest period of gasoline price stability in years. Congratulations to you all.

And, of course, we really didn't have to do all that much flexing - just threatening to, had the same effect.

Couple that with the fact that the Fed has made gobbling up these foreclosures, from the housing bubble burst, so darn difficult and time consuming, investors are beginning to return to more conventional opportunities that present more tradition funding mechanisms instead of short sales, bank sales, etc.

This means that money is just beginning to find its way back into the middle class, which up till now has been sucked dry at every possible tax turn. The rich (because they have no need) and the poor (because they have no voice) do not determine when the economy finally eases. It is the middle class that is the engine of the economy. 

Big business can build all they want, but if the middle class isn't buying, the economy is not moving.


Health Care Reform Act

Now We are going to have to grapple with the Health Care Reform Act - probably the single most damaging piece of legislation ever passed by congress. The debate (or circus) over the provisions of the act all but stopped any chance of economic recovery taking place while the bill was in limbo. 

Now that it has passed congress, we'll see if it can pass its constitutionality tests. Doctors will be hard pressed to participate in the program even if it does remain law, and lawyers are wringing their hands in disbelief of their good fortune. Meanwhile, those of us who need the Health Care Reform the most continue to pay extortion money to insurance companies for our coverage, and many more still have no health care umbrella at all.

It is clear that the dynamics of the old Health Care system have been pretty much lost on the inventors of this new law. 

The old system wasn't broken, it simply didn't have the sensibility to protect itself against greed.

We could have completely repaired the old Health Care System with one simple decision on the part of congress - and that would have been to cap the amount of money that lawyers could extract from Insurance Companies for their clients in a single court action. 

In return for this awards restriction, victims' lawyers would be allowed to return to court every 3 years to revisit the amount of compensation required by their clients. If the client needs more money to survive the next three years, the courts could authorize it, again limited by the same cap. The court protects the victim and allows recourse should their survival requirements change, while at the same time keeping the insurance companies from having to pay lopsided lump sum lifetime annuities.

The immediate effect would be the lowering of the Health Insurance premiums for We the People since Insurance companies would no longer have to pay out huge lump sum lifetime annuities to victims. 

See, courts award these huge settlements because they need to be sure that victims are compensated for their entire life, if their injury is severe enough (because they can only come to court once). So lawyers end up arguing with each other on who can best guess as to how long the victim is going to live, and how bad their client's quality of life can get. Ridiculous when you think of it in those terms, but nonetheless true.

So if our system removed the 'lifetime' element of the payout, and allowed victims to petition the courts to revisit the adequacy of a payout every three years, the uncontrolled balloon expense to insurance companies could be reined way back in and result in way lower premiums for the rest of We, the People.. 

What that means is the We the People, individually, would not have to shoulder the responsibility of paying for a victim's lifetime of expected needs payout all at one time by an insurance company. 

A lump sum lifetime award of, say, 600 million dollars to a victim has to affect an insurance company's bottom line. And protecting their bottom line is, above all else, their most important function. That means We get to pay the bill either with a massive premium increase all at once, or significant (and disproportionate to the services offered) increases in deductibles over the short term.

The courts would benefit with significantly fewer and shorter court battles, the number reduced to those special cases that address valid award requirements beyond the cap limit.

The cases that require revisiting at the end of the three-year period, would be extremely short, not having to litigate fault, only demonstrate victim's changing need.  Kinda Cool, huh?


Covenant With America?

Gingrich's Contract With America from the 80's, I see, has been dusted off and is being renamed by a group of somewhat forward thinking (and worried) congressmen. I'm going to guess that by the end of pre-Election month, We are going to witness another Deer-In-Headlight press conference by congressional leaders guaranteeing that all of congress will sign this new Covenant with America, "but please don't throw us all out of office"!

Yet another sign that the decision of We to adopt the election policy of 'Throw the Bums Out" is working. Congratulations!

The new Covenant With America is going to have to pay more than lip service, or the next round of elections may not be limited to replacing congressmen, but installing a new way of doing business. That would be sad, because it will mean that this experiment of We the People has failed, and failed miserably due to greed.

Component One of any Covenant with America has to include the flat out elimination of the foreclosure mess that the gov put us in. For the next six months, downsize the military foreign deployment to that of non-combat advisor status (i.e. answering questions from the Afghanis via the internet, from cubicles at the pentagon) and instead, spend that money buying every foreclosure on the market in the US. Then give those foreclosed homes back to the folks who originally owned them with easy to handle repayment loans ($100 per month, if that is all that they can afford). With the foreclosures off the market, We the People who have to sell our homes in order to make ends meet for the near term have a chance to do so at fair market values, instead of at fire sale prices! 

The result is that within days, the economy will restart since folks who want to pay their bills, will be able to, people will invest in their future now that they believe that there will be one, and the resulting trickle (or gush) up will put small business back in the drivers seat of a healthy economy.

Component Two of the Covenant will have to be a 2-year crash program for Energy Independence. 

Nobody expects dependence on oil to disappear overnight. None of us small business folks would ever demand that that kind of strain be put on several of our biggest of Big Business and Big Money (we understand the need for their inertia) - but seriously how many lifetimes will it take to spend a billion dollars? Isn't time for Big Oil (isn't it all Big?) to belly up to the bar and throw a huge chunk of earnings back into the Great Society that made it possible for them to make those billions, to build the infrastructure that will allow safe efficient non-fossil fuel distribution? 

Here's a surprise: None of us would even care if We ultimately had to purchase the new alternative fuel from the same Big Oil companies to whom We are feeding our hard-earned dollars to right now! That's right. But ONLY if the Alternative Fuel Manufacture and Distribution Rule clearly states that any alternative fuel business HAS to be a DOMESTIC business. It's the only way that We can exercise a certain level of control of the industry through our government, unlike our present situation of foreign oil, where we have zero control and not a lot of friends.

Now, Big Oil (which means Big Money and Big Business) might not make as much for their stockholders as they made before selling us fossil-fuel, but that's the price for getting the economy moving so that they can make any money at all. Trust me, We the People don't need vehicles when We are ALL out of work!

Component Three of the Covenant with America must include the repeal of the HealthCare reform act and return to the previous system, but with ADDED provisions to arrest the greed that ran rampant in the old system, creating a new system that is fair and profitable to both We, the People and the healthcare systems our government is supposed to be helping. The healthcare system was not broken before, it just suffered from no controls for greed. (See my article above on fixing the health care system.)

Component Four of the Covenant with America has to put a solid plan in place to rebuild our education system. How does our government expect to nurture and generate new and innovative thinking with which to regenerate itself, if all of our young people are working at MacDonald's to the exclusion of going to colleges, business or trade schools, or Junior colleges, or...?

This, however, is not something that the Fed can mandate. But it must spend the time and money educating a generation or two of PARENTS as to the value of education in this society. There is a real question whether Generation-X or -Y or -ALL understand this fundamental rule to survival. If education doesn't matter to parents (and right now it doesn't), then it isn't going to matter to their kids no matter how much government intervention is involved. 


Is There a Leader Left Who Knows How to Capture Our Imagination?

I'm guessing that that would be Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House.

And now I hear that he is considering running against Obama for the Presidency. He has my vote. I am struck every time I hear him speak - how he can make some of the most complicated parts of Washington mechanics so clear. 

I do not agree with everything that he says, but he is one person who I believe can capture the IMAGINATION of We the People. 

And Imagination is what We have suffered a serious lack of for a very long time. 

Look at our Education System. We have increasing population with falling enrollment in our high schools for the past ten years. Isn't that just plain crazy?  These kids aren't transferring into private schools or trade schools, they are simply quitting because making tacos at Taco Heaven is way easier (and cheaper) than gutting it out through some form of higher learning. And the double whammy, here, is that these kids are leaving school EARLY - not even graduating from high school! Is this nuts or what?

These undereducated kids are the folks who are going to make sure that our Governmental machinery continues to work as We get to the age where We won't be able to fix things by ourselves. 

Over 60% of our college and university attendees are foreign born. We the People understand the need for opportunities for the foreign born - weren't we all foreign born not too long ago? But it also means that most of the Inventions by our Scientists and Engineers will not necessarily be for the good of We, but prioritized for the benefit of another country. It is a super simple problem with a tough solution: US Educated and US Employed Aliens are sending most of their money to their families in their native country. It is not fair to try to stop them, so the only way to get things balanced out is to compete - create an education society that trains the children of We in top science and education pursuits so that they can compete for the US Jobs and keep the resulting money (power) here in the US.

Then ponder our Energy Plan (or lack thereof). Because of greed, we are at the mercy of other (some benevolent, others not) governments because of our dependence on their foreign oil. 

It's like having all of our grocery stores buying milk from one farm in Middle America. What if that farm, recognizing its grip on We, decided to charge in excess of what the milk was worth, just because it could, and used the excuse that it wasn't clear how much longer their cows were going to be able to produce milk, so they want to make their money now.

We could diversify and buy our milk from other Middle America farms, but our problem doesn't go away if all the farms in Middle America belong to the same co-op which holds one common pricing structure.

Not having a diversified Energy Plan is a dangerous place to be for We.

All this distills down to our balance of trade. Lots of countries are holding US Paper (Loans), enough that they could bankrupt the US within days (maybe even hours) if they found a need to. We have been lucky so far. But it doesn't take a genius to understand if China is holding a note for more money than we have gold or silver in our vaults to cover, it is going to be exceedingly difficult for We to influence China's Nuclear Arms decisions.

The problem, here, is that We are a nation that has lost its Imagination. A dynamic element unique to the human nature of our country, that our Government no longer  understands about We the People (or maybe they do, and they are intentionally trying to kill it). Doesn't that make you mad enough to spit?

There are plenty of examples of the power of this concept of Imagination. On 911, it astounded the world around how we could pull together as a nation, how it was possible for the most fractured people on the earth, for a few weeks, to be able to speak with a single voice, a single heart. 

If 911 was supposed to demoralize us, it backfired. It scared We, but it didn't demoralize. We the People have demonstrated again and again how strong this otherwise fragile experiment of a Volunteer Union of minds and bodies into the Common Cause is.

It is this ethereal concept of capturing the Imagination of We the People, that otherwise good people, who go to Washington and seemingly take their stupid pills after becoming congressmen, have lost sight of - have lost the sense of. 

FDR had it. Kennedy had it. And arguably, Reagan had it. But for some reason, recent professional leaders have forgotten it, and its power. 

It is why Perot, with virtually no political machinery in place, was so effective at changing government from his position as a self-proclaimed political outsider. He understood the absolute power of capturing our Imagination.

I wonder if We are going to see another Leader who can capture the Imagination of We the People, in my lifetime.


The Economy

Our economy is like a huge freight train sitting on a track. It is true that it is creeping, ever so slowly, forward, but only slightly.

Who is it that actually can get this train moving again?

Big-Money and Big-Business have cash, but that's all they have - and because these two entities are just that, machines, their job is to protect their investors. It is not in their genes to separate themselves from their gazillion$ just to benefit the quality of life of We - I don't see any Fortune 500 company offering to help me pay for my health insurance during this recession, or make sure that I have gas in my car when I carpool to work.

The low or no income class has the physical might, the shear numbers, but is helpless because it takes way more than just collective brute force to get this puppy to start moving faster.

There is only one thing that can get this train moving and that is the might of the middle class (that would be a huge part of We the People) through their middle class assets - their imagination, technology, and innovation.

Big money owns the tracks and maybe the cargo onboard, but the tracks are rusting and the cargo isn't going to get purchased unless and until the middle class is allowed to participate.

The Government (bought and paid for by BM and BB) wants us to believe that painting the freight train so that it looks nice will make it move faster. The reality is as ridiculous as this analogy. A pig with a bow is still a pig. Spending time and money to make the train look better is an exercise in futility, unless, for heavens sake, the gov doesn't have any better solution!. And that's what the American people see. There is nothing more demoralizing to an economic engine than to recognize that its government is powerless to fix it.

So what has to happen to bring the middle class to exercise their innovation, creativity, imagination and power to bear against this economic freight train idling on the tracks?

Simple. Restore the Middle Class's Confidence that We the People mean something to our Government! That protecting We the People, from extinction is the the first priority of the Government in which We have placed our trust, for the benefit of all of our American lives.

It is the innovation of the middle class (i.e. SMALL BUSINESS) that has fueled the powering up of our stalled economies throughout our history. Big Business, evolving from this small business innovation, is supposed to be the mass (the inertia) that keeps the momentum of the economy going once it has been kick-started, so that the economy can survive through the inevitable hiccups along the way.

Somehow, in some screwy thought process, Big Business and Big Money has decided that the middle class (and small business) is a threat to them! It's going to take an economist of way greater intellect and experience than I to explain this positively insane upside down thinking. But it is simply not right. 

BM and BB see the middle class as the only viable machinery that can effectively restrict the amount of money that BM and BB can make in the US. 

Doesn't BM and BB realize that deleting the middle class will eliminate any chance of the innovation or imagination recovering this economy? Of course they do, and that is why they are investing in, and outsourcing to the Global Market. They really don't expect this country to survive in its present form. Greed trumps We the People, again.

Nevertheless, that appears to be the plan. BB and BM have purchased the gov to implement it.

And it hasn't helped that our president is sitting atop as king of the heap in pronouncing that his vision is one of socialized everything, ultimately eliminating the middle class. There are enough examples of socialized-anything all around us that prove it doesn't work. Take a look at the Canadian Socialized Medicine program.

Government (Executive, Judicial, Legislative) had its chance over the past 10 years to find a way to placate BM and BB while strengthening the position of the Middle Class in our society. It failed. 

Familiarity, I'm afraid, has bred contempt. We the People, are now taking matters in our own hands (and I am not talking about the Tea Party). All across the nation, incumbent candidates are realizing that they are out of work, having been replaced by neophytes that We have voted in. It has gotten to the point that a congressman with no experience (and no IOUs to BB or BM) is a better risk for We to take, than 2 or 4 more years of our present office-holders!


Be Circumspect

With respect to being more aware of your surroundings, a reader of this blog sent me some info that I find interesting. The website allows you to search on any neighborhood and the resulting graphic will identify what felons are living in the area (by name), approximately their residence of record (i.e. Public Record), and what they were convicted of.  The website can be found at:

http://www.FelonSpy.com/search.html


Osama

I was sequestered away for a week during which our family company annually plans its mission for the coming year. During that week, Osama was located and dispatched by our elite Seals.  I missed the momentous day. No one emailed me with the happy news, I didn't see any rejoicing in the streets, and mainstream TV didn't pre-empt their programming with endless hoopla of giddiness but instead, I guess, simply featured it as their news program lead - I didn't see it. 

After I got back, I did see the President make his speech announcing that the dastardly deed had been done, and the somewhat startling news that Bin Laden's body had been buried at sea, ostensibly to meet the Muslim 24 hour deadline on burial after death, but may speak more to minimizing a fear by our government that it would somehow be contributing to the martyrdom of the Al-Qaida leader if his body was returned from Pakistan.  

What was unusual was the decisiveness with which the President made the decision to bury Osama at sea. This was not a win/win decision for the good of all mankind. This was a decision design to specifically to extinguish the fire in the belly of the Al-Qaida beast. It was a decision that was pondered, considered, weighed and decided on to the satisfaction of our political machine (and to the unhappiness, I'm sure, of our terrorist enemies). Where did this version of our first black President surface from, all of a sudden? 

Isn't this the same type of leadership that we were hoping to see in resolving the recession through quality guidance of the government by the President in easing the housing crunch, and negotiating an enduring energy program to deflower the Emirates' (and Big Oil's) death grip on gas prices? Wasn't this the President who held in his hand the power and might of the US Government to see to it that we had a quality and fair Health Care system and let it get away? Wasn't this the man whom we hoped would follow his own promise to extract our sons and daughters from the Iraq version of our Viet Nam during his first year in office, but instead sucked us into another Viet Nam in Afghanistan?

I was dumbstruck as Seth Meyers summed it all up for me at a recent traditional roast of the President at the Fourth Estate Dinner, when he said "Who is this President who now serves us? It is not the same man as he was before the presidency. Mr. President, you would have liked the Obama who campaigned in '08".


Economy '11

For the 6th straight month, unemployment fell by significant numbers and for the fourth straight month, foreclosures are down, indicating that the economy is indeed trying its best to recover. But still the behemoth of an economic engine seems to be held back by some intangible.  Simply put, the confidence by We the People is not there, yet. 

How is it going to be possible for We to get behind a President and Administration that owns the policy of reducing or eliminating the Middle Class (We the People) in this country? Denial only goes so far, and that is what we are witnessing right now - for all intents and purposes, the element of recovery are in place, but the political climate is not right. Can Obama find some way to connect with We and salvage his Presidency? Ask me next year.


Extinction of the Middle Class

Now, I'm not kidding anyone, nor myself, that anyone actually is taking what I write to heart. The logs indicate that I am being read, but I have no illusion about the importance of what I write. I know that I'm not even a very good writer. But what I am, is a member of the middle class of We the People - but I am afraid not for much longer.

I'm not entirely sure what is going on around me. Actually, I pretty well know what's going on around me, it's just that I don't understand why.

If you stand back and look at what is happening to We during the past, say, 10 years, it is unmistakable. We have been systematically losing our power to reckon for ourselves. It has been subtle, but without question it has been deliberate. 

For a huge part, We have done  it to ourselves. We have believed in the moral good of people, and have elected them to serve us without much in the way of double-checking whether these employees of We have been following our instructions. Unfortunately, we have believed what they have been telling us, that Government is way too difficult for We to understand, and just trust them that they are doing things for the betterment of We.

Can you hear that echo of history? It's the thin-sounding rattling of loose change, not the commanding toll of the Liberty Bell! We have been duped. Arguably, the greatest nation on earth and without argument, the most powerful, is being run by a group of employees of We, with their own agenda - and not one shared by their employer, and definitely not an agenda designed to extend the life of We the middle class.

Why shouldn't We all embrace the vision of a democratic socialized utopia of benevolent Upperclass managing a penniless lowerclass and a missing Middleclass? Because it breeds mediocrity. Examine the nations of the world and history that have taken that route (some by chance, some by accident, some by design). These are NOT hot bed of new ideas, NOT the source for creative solutions to the worlds problems, NOT the centers of economic and moral growth, NOT the power centers of the world. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

The serious problem is that some of our employees absolutely believe that they have our best interest at stake, here. That the only way to save WE is to become a socialized society - that ALL decisions come from the top (meaning from the position of power, money and government). These are folks who are oblivious to historical truth. However, if they are right, then this Great Experiment of We the People, has failed.


The Myth of the TeaParty

Long before the teaparty decided to capitalize on the tide of public unrest, the members of the silent majority were beginning to awake to the fact that their lot in life had been systematically brutalized by a non-responsive employee system of checks and balances that did no more than to ensure the perpetuation of the employees and not We the employer. That silent group has been quietly, and without fanfare, gathering about them like-minded folks (a lot of like-minded folks) who remember that the gov was supposed to be protecting We the People employer, not Them, the employees. The silent We struck a sizable blow to the misguided employee agenda, by resurrecting the "throw the bums out" mentality at the last off-year election. The result was a new crop of untested (but also un-beholding) recruits in congress. 

The teaparty wants to take credit for the action. The teaparty didn't mobilize We, it's the other way around. And all those employees of We are pleased to see it unfold this way, because the teaparty is doing more harm than good. The trouble with the teaparty taking credit, is that the momentum that We created may be jeopardized by the rest of We believing that there is 'someone else' taking care of the problem. There isn't. The teaparty is toothless without We. The teaparty is following, not leading. It is therefore incumbent on We to continue to exercise the only control we have left over our employees, the same control any employer has.


The (Vanishing) Middle Class - RIP

We, the People, formed this democratic republic to test the idea that a free enterprise system, with government involvement limited to protecting We as a group in those circumstances where We could not protect ourselves individually, could evolve into an idealistic community safe from overburdening special interest.

For over 200 years it has, more or less worked to the envy of the world. 

All around the world even our most vehement, vocal (and dangerously demonstrative) critics are watching the world unfold before them on their Dish Network driven televisions. If you don't believe me, look at the terrorists footage from CNN. Everywhere there are scenes of dirt poverty homes, families just scratching by, to residences of opulence beyond belief, all with Dish Antennas mounted everywhere!

It was a heck of a risk, this democratic republic test. Think about it, folks would uproot themselves and their families, travel half way around the world to the uncertainties of a land they neither knew or understood to start afresh with little more than a concept to work from as a roadmap. Amazing. Very (very) few of us could generate that kind of courage today.

The result is a country of unprecedented power, wealth and ingenuity. A free system where your rights end at the tip of my nose. Where prosperity has reigned continuously for more than 90% of its years since its declaration from England and monarch rule. Where a free enterprise system (We, the People) left to its own devices launched the Industrial Revolution, beginning with heavy metal products and capping with the miniaturization of electronics and technology to put a man on the moon and bring him back safely. Then We the People launched the Information age where a lifetime of data was poured into different pots, then stirred, boiled and bubbled until enough knowledge was extracted to help We learn from the past so We were not doomed to repeat it, and set our direction for a successful future. Then We shared that technology with the world by launching the World Wide Web (the Internet). What a marvelous country.

But all that is in jeopardy, right now, today as you read this. We, the People, are under direct attack and are about to be fed the green weenie (an old west coast phrase I grew up with that betrays my age). It may, I am afraid, already be too late to reverse the bad thing that is happening to us. I hope not, but I am not too optimistic.

Arthur C Brooks calls it statism (it doesn't even deserve the status of a capital "S"). It is the sincere and fervent belief of some (a lot) of those in positions of power and authority in industry and government. The concept of statism has to do with redistributing some of the assets of the rich to the poor. The concept works, albeit poorly on a lot of levels, in countries around the world (Canada, Germany, etc). 

The fallout, however is that the middle class is eliminated. Yup, completely wiped out. The system does not support nor tolerate the middle class. It has no place in the statism formula for their utopia. 

The sad part is that the Middle Class is where all of the We, the People, Free Enterprise System dynamics does its magic - the magic that has pulled this country from obscurity to the most powerful country in the world. The highly efficient, ingenuity-driven machine that is the Middle class ceases to function. There is no incentive to support or encourage that mighty, hidden, dynamo of knowledge and invention. In the statism model, there is no incentive to 'get ahead', in fact independent thinking is penalized. 

Look at our Social Security System - productive folks who work all their lives paying into the system, find themselves in need of some financial help nearing the end of their career and ask for a social security stipend, only to find out the if they continue to be productive, continue to contribute to our Great Society, they will loose the social security help the government dangles in front of them. Many choose to take the sure route and quit work in order to secure their Soc Sec checks from the fed each month. What a waste, bright people being penalized for contributing for the benefit of We, the People. That is statism. But more importantly, the result is another Middle class resident of We, the People, who is forced right out of the Middle Class. Get it?

There are two statism motivating forces at work here against We, the People - Greed and Fear.

There are those in Big Business (most of Big Business) who see the opportunity, while the guard of We, the People, is down (or apathy runs rampant), to consolidate their economic position (i.e. increase their already astronomical profits) by annihilating the Middle class, by annihilating the Small Businesses that feed the Middle Class, who are the only threat to their existence (and their uncontrolled or unregulated profits). That's the fear part. Big Business knows that Small Business, operated, by and large, by a knowledgeable Middle Class, understands every time Big Business oversteps its greed boundary. It is also driven by simple Greed. Big Business is doing this because it can, there is little opposition, because the vast majority of the population has turned inward and are operating, on a day-to-day basis, to protect themselves, and not acting for the good of the bigger community (We, the People). And for the short term it might work to the benefit of Big Business. But it does not make any long-term economic sense.

What happens over the long term? All the new, innovative ideas, all the efficient design, redesign, testing and fine tuning that only small business can do at the owner's expense (with the promise of riches at the end of the new product design/manufacturing/distribution tunnel), goes away. We, the People suffer yet another defeat because yet another member of the Middle Class, the lifeblood of the free enterprise system has just been wiped out. The rich get richer, the poor get poorer because there are even more immigrants from the Middle Class now added to the poor pool.

Nowhere has this statism been more clearly demonstrated than by our government's action, or lack of it, to bring to bear its utterly enormous economic resources to add appropriate corrections to the housing dilemma before it became a crisis. The government was actually ENCOURAGING banks to create poor risk loans to unqualified homeowners at the turn of the century in order to keep the housing market heated. They knew it was overheated and a crash was unavoidable, but by then it would be someone else's problem. Ultimately it became the problem of We, the People. We were fed another green weenie and another round of Middle Class members, who thought that they were living the American Dream, had it turned into the American Nightmare when they were banished to the ranks of the poor. What a way to treat We, the People.

Health Care Reform is another example of statism, that even the government couldn't get right. But, instead, has screwed up so thoroughly that no one is actually going to benefit. Doctors are losing valued, low maintenance patients who pay their bills, health care systems at the state level were completely destroyed by the new program's lack of financial and legal support, congressmen looking like buffoons holding the carcasses of We, the People in their hands, totally unable to make healthy decisions to protect We, and finally an ego at the top, which will be the sole reason that a black man may never again be elected to the Chief Executive's job, at least not in my lifetime. 

A sad commentary for this Grand Experiment that We, the People want so desperately to succeed at.

As a permanent shareholder of We, the People, are you happy with how your employees are handling your company? Are you pleased with the decisions that your CEO is making on your behalf? Does it seem to you that the employees are more interested in robbing We blind, while telling We that the company workings are too complicated for We to understand, and to just 'trust them'? How do you rate our judges, whose job it is to maintain the checks and balances, and protect each of us individually, and collectively as We? 

Is it time for another HouseCleaning? There may not be much time left (if any). We have an off-year election coming up in a couple of months. Is it time to start whispering 'throw the bums out" again?

Where the heck are the Leaders that We, the People need, with the vision, confidence and imagination that can propel We back into the age of prosperity, that have the guts to standup to Big Business and reinstate, protect and support the Free Enterprise System, and the Middle Class, for the benefit of We, the People?


Trump

When will the Republican Party figure out that the reason We are supporting the ridiculous antics of Donald Trump is to signal to the GOP that even a Clown is better than the slate of candidates that they are advancing. There is a gigantic disconnect between We and the Party. It would uproariously funny if it weren't so sad. But all agree that it is terrific entertainment.

What if Trump is elected? I'm going to guess that he is going to eat a huge helping of humble pie and all of a sudden create a moderate face to his Presidency - he is NOT a stupid or reckless man. One thing is for sure, he is a businessman, and beholding to only his own beliefs (which may be very close to the needs of We, even if they are being promoted in less than comfortable manner), and that just has to scare the heck out of congress. Everybody on the Hill is hoping that they can get We to forget the embarrassing past 4 years by scurrying around and passing all sorts of great legislation for the Great Society.

With Trump at the helm, there is going to be a healthy review of pork-belly projects attached to legislation designed to exclusively assist a congressman to be re-elected. This may be an era of record number of Presidential Vetos, which is fine as long as it serves We the People, and puts our employees (congress) in their places (you DO understand that they are supposed to be working for We).

Trump has to be keeping world leaders up at night (Putin, et al) worrying about what this nut case Trump is going to do to upset their own little worlds of greed, hate and tyranny. Fine with me. Nothing wrong with worrying world leaders - our most productive cold war headway came when Ronnie Reagan let slip that we had developed a satellite-based defense system, then continued with the myth until Gorbachev let the Berlin Wall evaporate into history, ultimately ushering in the collapse of the Soviet Union. Actors are good actors, even if they are President.

And Trump is talking about closing the borders "until we can figure this thing out". Maybe temporarily sealing up the sieve that allows illegal aliens to risk life, limb (prison) to move cartel drugs into the US might not be a bad idea. However, the problem is not the illegals transporting drugs into our country, the problem is the members of We who are buying (and selling) these drugs in the US - creating a huge market, making it super profitable and incentivising a simple farm worker to risk his future just to cross the border. That's a lot of lobbying to keep the borders open. Fortunately, there isn't a lot of money behind that lobbying (it's all going to buy drugs!)

Here's an idea: There are roughly 2500 Border Patrol Officers in the Home Land Security Arsenal, attempting to keep illegal aliens from jumping the southern Border fence that is about 2500 miles long. I vote that each officer be assigned one mile of the fence and outfit them with paintball guns full of indelible ink. Fire on anyone crossing the border by way of the fence hopping. I think purple would be perfect. Kinda hard to hitchhike their way out of Nogales looking like that.

Like I said, Trump is neither stupid or reckless. I think it would be a terrific experiment to have a pure businessman in the Oval Office for a term. Who knows, maybe enough folks will worry enough to get the Russians out of the Ukraine, get Iran to cease its nuclear program, and scale back the efforts of the terrorist individuals taking a bead on the US, when We decide to start going after their families as contributing to their delinquency.


Where Have All Our Teachers Gone?

I don't get it. We, the People, through hard work, perseverance, education, and investment,  became part of the mightiest nation in the World. Now, not so much. What happened?

We had the hardest working, brightest workforce on the planet. Now our youth aspire to sell burgers at McDonalds. Certainly we are better than this. And it is NOT the kids fault! The fault sits squarely on the shoulders of We. Shame on us. Our children deserve a better future and we have failed them.

We have not demanded nor insisted quality education programs from our leaders. Most of us (old folks) would probably vote for education program funding both locally and nationally, if we actually believed that the programs have actually been design for the good of the (greatgrand)sons and (greatgrand)daughters of We.

There is no denying it. Education legislation support has eroded significantly during the past 20 years. That's a long time (that twenty groups of Seniors nationwide who never got the chance to graduate and qualify for college). The bad news is that these are the same folks who are supposed to take care of We in our old age.


Why Are We All So Afraid?

Heavens, this election cycle has most folks in a grip of fear that they won't make the right decision and plunge WE into the abyss.

First off, there is no right decision. We are choosing, as we always have, from the lesser of two evils (so to say). This time, though, we have asked for, and received a representative of change.

What we got is as radical a representative of change as the system that We have fought and died over may be able to handle. The problem is that We may not be strong enough to tackle that challenge for change.

Pitted against the representative for change is the representative for status quo, for things to remain the same (and maybe for the mistakes to be repeated).

We are split down the middle, with no one really confident that We can survive no matter which candidate wins the election. That's a tough spot for We to be in.

But it was the same fear and separation of views and spirit that resulted in creation of the More Perfect Union that We have evolved into today.

Do Not Be Afraid. The Union will survive. It is NOT an all or nothing election.

If we give the Renaissance Man a try and he cannot produce the stability, security and standard of living that he promises (and that We expect from our employee), then We can fire him. We all know how to do that, if We have to.

If the Status Quo Woman becomes the first Ms. President of We, the employer, and We all learn that We have been lied to again and the middle class continues to erode, then We have the option to fire the First Ms. President of this political experiment in democracy.

So We also have to think about who is standing in line to assume the reigns of the Oval Office if We decide that enough is enough! We have been so concentrating on the First Seat, we haven't paid near enough attention to the Second Seat.

The Second Seat warmer after this election will materially affect whether We have the courage to fire the First Seat if we are not satisfied that the best interests of We are being tended to. So, for the first time in remembered history, because we are so unsure of our favorite candidates, We have to seriously consider the quality of their running mates. For many, this has made it easier for We to decide on where our vote is going to be cast.

Interesting, because on the Elephant-side, the VP nominee is a pretty righteous dude. On the Donkey-side, not so much.

Not surprisingly, there are We who have decided to throw their vote to the candidate for President who can least resist Senate and House 'suggestions'. In other words for the candidate over which the House and Senate can exercise the most control. Then We also vote-in Congressional representatives that can hold the line for We. Not a bad strategy, all in all, but a bit risky mainly because We don't have that complete a control over Congress as it is. You see what I mean.

The Founding Fathers created a government that was cumbersome and slow moving. That was by design. If something is not right at the top, it may take awhile to generate a consensus, but when that happens, the entire machine moves forward. That protects We from blindsiding decisions that we didn't see coming. Granted, misuse of the Executive Order has negatively impacted the original design of this government, but that too will eventually change. A legacy of Misuse of Presidential Power is not a legacy that We or any President can be proud of.

So, do not be afraid. There is no wrong decision, except to stay at home. Vote as you see it - then stay connected and make your employee toe the line in the Best Interests of We the People.


The press

As an undisputed Nation of Greatness, We the People, for the second time in History, have elected a non-politician to the Office of President of The United States. Remarkable.

We have befuddle the Press, pollsters and political professionals who were sure that We were going to roll over and play dead for four more years of the same.

As an unexpected by-product, We have found how disconnected the Press is with the folks that they have been attempting to entertain We for the past 10 years with their 'unbiased news'.

The Fourth Estate used to be an agency of Sage Third Opinions that We relied upon, during those times when our government didn't have the courage to tell us the truth about The War and wars. While the administration treated us like mushrooms (under a pile of manure and in the dark), the media helped us grow smarter about our country and ourselves.

Can't say that now. The Press's obligation now is to render any and every 'news' story into some form of marketable entertainment. They have to convince their audience to tune in so they can sell products and make money for their stockholders. The news hour looks more like a crappy reality tv series (and with about the same measuring stick accuracy of We). The problem is, they believe that the 'news' they provide is a service to We.

Well, they got that wrong. Most of We do not want to use the news hour as our escape from reality - there are plenty of shows on tv that can take care of that need - We want to learn what kind of mess we are in so We can fix it. What we get is distractions and lies, interspersed with 300 seconds of why this hemorrhoid cream is better.

The Press has dropped the ball. What a shame. What a demotion from the respectability of the once Internationally admired Fourth Estate. What used to be an admired profession is now complicit in this muddying of the truth for and about We. Shame on us for letting it happen.

But then, when all looks lost, We seem to have a way of adding a little balance to things. The press didn't have the election results anywhere near correct because We decided not to tell them. They were left to having to listen to the only ones left talking (politicians and the rest of the uninformed press). And they began to believe their own stories - even though they were dead wrong. Serves them right.

What's painful to watch is how bad the situation is, demonstrated by how station after station's on-air representatives try to explain away why they were so wrong. See, they want to blame it on a new paradigm, the rules for which only they can figure out...tune in to news at 11 to find out.

The fact is, We have decided (maybe for a little while, maybe forever) that We have to find a different source for our News and Truth. The new President is pretty outspoken - after all he knows best about the difference between News and Reality television! There is no new paradigm, it is the same old one that set We on the right path over and over again through the years - Truth.

The fourth estate has reduced itself to the likes of reality tv and We are trying out New Venues searching for the best form of the Truth. The internet may be the answer, blogs may be the answer, FarceBook or TwiddleDeeDee may be the answer (but probably not in their present forms). Are We on the right path....tune in for news at 11.


The "H" Factor

This has probably been one of the most stressful elections that We the People have had to deal with over the years. It is good that it is over.

But that is only the first step in a series of things that have to happen to turn all this work into a legacy Presidency. Most important is the "H" factor.

The most significant issue for voters is whether 'what We saw is what We got'. Is there a chance that the obnoxious, divisive, annoying, rude, crude candidate personality from the campaign trail is going to be the Personality of the New Presidency.

If yes, we are in for a very long (or very short - depending on who you ask) Presidency.

If, on the other hand, the softening that We saw during the acceptance speech is the ego that We're going to be saying 'Howdy' to on the Friday, January 20 Inaugural, then We will all have won. That would be outstanding. Congratulate yourselves for staying with the Battle of the Monster Campaign (or Campaign Monsters).

What is in play is the 'H' Factor - whether The Donald is going to allow the Office to Humble him before We, or is he going to Humiliate us all (like We've been humiliated before). Humility or Humiliation - We all hope for the best, and fear the worst, but it looks promising that We just might be lucky enough to get the Statesman DT while acting on our behalf.

Wouldn't that be a Hoot!


The Demise of News Media?

It's been two weeks and the only thing the Press can talk about is why Clinton lost. And there is no shortage of excuses from the Clinton camp.

That's interesting, because what it says is that the Trump group is not talking to the Press - just as The Donald alluded would happen after the election. Trump is deciding on who he is going to invite into the inner circle (meaning, invited to news conferences!). Is it possible, that amongst all the other potential benefits to the Trump Presidency, we can add the cleaning house of reality TV News, and make it respectable again? Man, does this have the News Media in a tizzy, since most of these anchors don't know how to report on the news, but rather know only how to report on their own bias of the news. If I was a news reporter I, too, would be worried about my job and my future.

So far they haven't gotten it yet. Most of these clowns are still spending all of their time trying to sensationalize the news. The only problem is that they can either talk to the Clintons (which is now career terminus old news), or talk to each other. And there is no better way for reporters to get things wrong that to listen to each other - example: the massive miss on the Clinton election projection win.

So the Popular Press continues to self destruct. The smart reporters have recognized an opportunity to turn the popular press back into the Legitimate Press, and are returning to reporting the news, instead of trying to invent it. Reporting the news instead of becoming part of the news - that might be kinda hard for a reporter who has never done that in his professional career before.

So far, the first loser was CBS with their 60 Minutes interview by Leslie Stahl. I'm going to guess that this was the last 60 Minutes interview that the Trump camp will be doing with CBS. Probably want to think about selling the CBS News stock!


Could This Be A Trend?

Is it just too impossible for We to imagine, or could the successful Presidency of Donald Trump cause a widespread trend to electing businessmen, not professional politicians, to public office? Now that would be one heck of a Legacy for both the President, and for We!

Maybe that's simply too much for We to ask for, although isn't that how this experiment in representative democracy got started over a couple of hundred years ago?

Our Founding Fathers were, without question, businessmen first and politicians (and statesmen) second. That's not all that difficult to understand - middle class america, even before it became America, has always been ripe with entrepreneurs who would march up to the edge and create something out of nothing, to benefit We. It is a marvelous concept that has lost nothing of its value in its evolution over time.

Consider the possibility of electing business powerhouses, who volunteer their time (we couldn't pay them enough) to 'watch the store' for We, who by their very spirit would be more immune to lobbying ($$), and maybe be better able to make decisions in the best long term interest of We, instead of special interests.

It wouldn't make a perfect system, but it would be nice for We to be able to again feel confident that government, for the most part, is watching Our backs. Now there's a novel concept - Government watching out for We!

This is a way better solution than the 'Throw the Bums Out' tactic We earlier tried (with some pretty good solid success). Here, We're going to replace politicians with a group of powerful people who will lobby for Our benefit, instead of in spite of it.

And while politicians (almost 100% lawyers) create the most convoluted documents (laws) to make them as confusing as possible to We in order to ensure their own value and longevity, business people try to write the shortest, clearest contracts in order to get them executed as quickly as possible, with the least misunderstanding, so they can move on to solving the next big challenge. Kind of a refreshing way to run government, wouldn't you say?


2016 StandUpAmerica.info