A Failure to Communicate

July 31, 2009

I have been terribly remiss of late. “Something new every day” seems to have lost its importance to me.

The loss of this brother has hit me harder than the passing of his twin… perhaps because our other brother lived on – in a way – as long as his twin was alive. Now, both halves of the matching set are gone.

Tomorrow we will be bombarded by grand-daughters. The five oldest will come to spend the night as a final summer fling before they all start back to school.

I’d better make sure the pan cake griddle is ready to go. It’s not easy making five ‘Mickey Mouse’ pancakes all at once.

Hopefully the sounds of children’s laughter will help me over this rough spot.

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Words that Bear Repeating

July 30, 2009

Charley Reese, who was born in Washington, Georgia on January 29, 1937, was a syndicated columnist until August 30, 2008, when he set aside his word processor and went into retirement. Mr. Reese was known for his plainspoken manner and conservative views. He was associated with the Orlando Sentinel from 1971 until 2001.

As for you liberals out there – forget I mentioned the word ‘conservative’ and read on!

I bring up Charley Reese because an article written by him appeared in my email this morning. Whoever decided to send his article took a bit of poetic license and made it appear to be a recently written column. In truth, Charley wrote the article on March 7, 1985. The fact that it is as relevant today as it was twenty-four years ago – without the poetic license of changing some names and adding a fact or two – makes it something that every American should read. In fact, they should read it often – especially leading up to the next election.

Here is the article in its original form:

Politicians are the only people in the world who create problems and then campaign against them.

Have you ever wondered why, if both the Democrats and the Republicans are against deficits, we have deficits? Have you ever wondered why, if all the politicians are against inflation and high taxes, we have inflation and high taxes?

You and I don’t propose a federal budget. The president does. You and I don’t have the Constitutional authority to vote on appropriations. The House of Representatives does. You and I don’t write the tax code. Congress does. You and I don’t set fiscal policy. Congress does. You and I don’t control monetary policy. The Federal Reserve Bank does.

One hundred senators, 435 congressmen, one president and nine Supreme Court justices – 545 human beings out of the 235 million (a 1985 number) – are directly, legally, morally and individually responsible for the domestic problems that plague this country.

I excluded the members of the Federal Reserve Board because that problem was created by the Congress. In 1913, Congress delegated its Constitutional duty to provide a sound currency to a federally chartered but private central bank.

I excluded all the special interests and lobbyists for a sound reason. They have no legal authority. They have no ability to coerce a senator, a congressman or a president to do one cotton-picking thing. I don’t care if they offer a politician $1 million dollars in cash. The politician has the power to accept or reject it.

No matter what the lobbyist promises, it is the legislator’s responsibility to determine how he votes.

Those 545 human beings spend much of their energy convincing you that what they did is not their fault. They cooperate in this common con regardless of party.

What separates a politician from a normal human being is an excessive amount of gall. No normal human being would have the gall of (then Speaker of the House) Tip O’Neill, who stood up and criticized Ronald Reagan for creating deficits.

The president can only propose a budget. He cannot force the Congress to accept it. The Constitution, which is the supreme law of the land, gives sole responsibility to the House of Representatives for originating appropriations and taxes.

O’Neill is the speaker of the House. He is the leader of the majority party. He and his fellow House members, not the president, can approve any budget they want. If the president vetoes it, they can pass it over his veto.

REPLACE SCOUNDRELS

It seems inconceivable to me that a nation of 235 million (300 million today) cannot replace 545 people who stand convicted — by present facts – of incompetence and irresponsibility.

I can’t think of a single domestic problem, from an unfair tax code to defense overruns, that is not traceable directly to those 545 people.

When you fully grasp the plain truth that 545 people exercise power of the federal government, then it must follow that what exists is what they want to exist.

If the tax code is unfair, it’s because they want it unfair. If the budget is in the red, it’s because they want it in the red. If the Marines are in Lebanon, it’s because they want them in Lebanon. (For 2009, replace Lebanon with Iraq or Afghanistan.)

There are no insoluble government problems. Do not let these 545 people shift the blame to bureaucrats, whom they hire and whose jobs they can abolish; to lobbyists, whose gifts and advice they can reject; to regulators, to whom they give the power to regulate and from whom they can take it.

Above all, do not let them con you into the belief that there exist disembodied mystical forces like “the economy,” “inflation” or “politics” that prevent them from doing what they take an oath to do.

Those 545 people, and they alone, are responsible. They, and they alone, have the power. They, and they alone, should be held accountable by the people who are their bosses – provided the voters have the gumption to manage their own employees.

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This man’s words fit in exactly with what I’ve been saying about the ‘professional politicians’ who have lost sight of the people they are supposedly representing. They are all beholding to the special interest groups who provide the cash to get them re-elected.

It’s time to vote them all out of office and replace them with civic minded people who will make an honest effort to repair the damage done by generations of con men.

I would hope the first thing the ‘NEW’ congress would do is set term limits and get rid of the expensive frills that make the job so enticing to people who don’t have the common sense of a child.

How can we expect the ‘professional politicians’ to understand the problems of the common people… when they work so hard to remain above us.

Please encourage your friends and family members to read the words of Charley Reese. They can skip my editorial comments and it won’t hurt my feelings… much.


More Information on the Health Care Plans

July 27, 2009

CNN and Money Magazine have an interesting article on their website. It’s entitled “5 Freedoms You’d Lose in Health Care Reform”.

I invite everyone to take the time to read it. It is one more example of our politicians using deception to take control of our very lives. But don’t take my word for it. Read the article and come to your own conclusion.

Click here to read the article.


Another Mystery Solved

July 24, 2009

About a week ago I mentioned that I was trying to learn the origin of the names of two towns. One was Laboratory, Pennsylvania, and the other was Forks of Ivy, North Carolina.

A basic search of the Internet told me that Laboratory, PA was originally known as Pancake, PA because a man named George Pancake ran a tavern there. I guessed that the name had to be changed in order to get a Post Office; at the time, Pennsylvania had two towns named Pancake.

I sent a request for information to the Washington County Historical Society in Pennsylvania. Here is the response sent me by Janet Wareham.

Earle Forrest wrote about this area in his 1926 History of Washington County, Pennsylvania in the chapter on South Strabane Township.  He discusses first George Pancake, then Jonathan Martin and adds this paragraph:

“About thirty years ago the late Dr. Byron Clark, who resided near the end of East Maiden Street, Washington, established a chemical laboratory for the manufacture of patent medicine, which he sold throughout the country.  He had a post office established and named the place Laboratory, by which it is still known, although the original name of Pancake still sticks.”

The only part I had right was that the U.S. Post Office was involved.

Now, let’s see if we can solve the mystery of Forks of Ivy. Maybe a member of the Forks of Ivy Baptist Church can help us.


The Right Answer – Our Worst Enemy

July 23, 2009

As I race toward my sixty-fifth birthday, I’m reminded of the many things I’ve learned in my lifetime. One of my most significant discoveries is that the right answer is a terrible thing. For many of us, the quest for knowledge ends as soon as we think we have the right answer.

I sometimes joke that I found an object in the ‘next to last’ place I looked. How many times have we heard someone report that the lost object turned up in the last place he or she looked. Well, sometimes I go the extra mile just so I can make a silly comment.

When lost objects are the subject of the search, it doesn’t make any sense to continue the search after the object has been found. However, when it comes to knowledge, it’s extremely important to continue seeking a more definitive answer. Quite often, the additional probing turns up additional facts that, at times, totally alter our thinking. That’s when we realize our first conclusion was absolutely incorrect.

Case in point, a 1939 reference book listed uranium as a worthless metal.

It doesn’t take an in depth study of history to recognize how many times the scientific community has been mistaken. Yet, every time they ‘prove’ a theory, they’ll defiantly defend their findings as the ultimate truth.

It took an amateur paleontologist to prove that many dinosaurs were more akin to birds than lizards. The established community laughed at him until he found nesting grounds and eggs.

Lately I’ve been accused of being a right-wing FOX News watcher because I dared to question the universal health care plan being shoved down our collective throats by a President who seems to have little trouble spending tax payer money.

I’ll be the first to admit both parties seem to enjoy throwing around our tax dollars – especially when it can win additional votes for them during the next election. But the quantities of cash in question with this administration are beyond comprehension. We were told the stimulus package would turn the economy around. Thus far, it’s hard to say. Has it or hasn’t it? That all depends on who is doing the talking.

(Do you know how to tell when a politician is lying? His or her lips are moving. Trust me!)

The fact that the Administration is delaying the mid-year budget report until after the August recess of Congress seems to me to be a bad omen. Do they not want us to know how deeply in debt we are headed? It would be much harder to pass legislation to add to the financial burden if the public knew just how heavy that burden might already be.

And yet, when I question and try to determine the truth behind the news reports (on FOX, CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, and PBS) I’m accused of being right-wing.

I consider myself a moderate. If I were to be identified with any political party, it would be Libertarian. I have never voted a straight party ticket and consider anyone who does so to be a complete idiot who refuses to take the time to learn about candidates of opposing parties.

Nancy Pelosi condemns the corporate executives who fly on private jets. Yet she does the same on a regular basis – at tax payer expense. Is this acceptable behavior? Might this be called hypocritical?

George Bush was accused of being arrogant. The way Barbara Boxer treated Harry C. Alford, the president and CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce, was a true example of arrogance. He tried to tell her how condescending her remarks to him were and, instead of taking the time to listen to what he was saying and, perhaps apologize, she interrupted him repeatedly to explain how wrong he was.

Sean Hannity does the same thing when he ‘debates’ someone who sees things differently. Bill O’Reilly is even more arrogant… but in a more polite way. I once heard him speak out against the Fair Tax. His comments proved that he had never read the bill and had no idea what he was talking about.

This country has forgotten the meaning of debate because we no longer listen to one another. We are so positive that we have the right answer that there is no need to listen to any facts that might prove us wrong.

We need to get back to being a civilized society that respects a person’s right to speak. We need to stop the protests that occur whenever someone from the opposition tries to explain his or her view of the issues.

Am I correct in my arguments? I think so, but can never be sure. If I’m off base, hopefully someone will come along and tell me where I’ve gone wrong. I promise to listen.

By the way, how many of you have taken the time to contact your friends and acquaintences in countries that have Nationalized Health Care. Do you want to get some honest answers from people who live under that system… or will you simply take the word of Glenn Beck?


Universal Health Care

July 22, 2009

I’ve barely scratched the surface in my attempt to get to the truth of this matter and I’ve learned that politicians cannot be trusted. But I already knew that.

I’ve also learned that journalist and talk show hosts cannot be trusted, but I already knew that as well.

I continue to be amazed at how solid arguments can be put together on both sides of an issue. Those ‘solid’ cases are usually built on half-truths and distorted facts. In many cases, the same statistics are used by both sides.

So, who do we believe?

I was once told not to believe anything I heard and only half of what I see.

The two videos below are prime examples of extreme sides of an argument. The first was produced by a union.

The video certainly painted Tommy Douglas as a superhero and Richard Nixon as a lowly dog. It seems that most liberals enjoy kicking Nixon. However, it seems to me that placing the blame on one man is not justifiable. There have been numerous leaders since then who did nothing to further the cause of Nationalized health care. A number of them were Democrats. Let’s be fair!

Speaking of Democrats, Al Gore wrote a book on the environment prior to being elected as Vice-President. For eight years he said nothing about global warming. Was he muzzled by his boss? Did Bill Clinton disagree with Al’s thinking?

Back to the subject at hand. Here is a humorous look at the other side of the argument.

Is this the reality that the union video ignored? I’ve heard of many Canadians coming to the U.S. to get treatment. I’ve read that Canadians have a sixteen percent higher death rate from cancer because it takes so long to get treated.

The union video states that Canadians live longer than citizens of the U.S. But I’ve seen studies showing that people in the northern United States live longer than their counterparts in the South. The extreme weather changes are credited with the longer life spans. Thus, a national health system probably has nothing to do with it. Living closer to the North Pole is most likely the cause.

So who are we to believe?

I’ve a good friend in London. He cannot speak for the Canadian system, but he lives with the English system, which is similar to the Canadian. Therefore I asked his opinion. Here are his thoughts:

The NHS isn’t bad at all. It suffers like all healthcare programmes by consuming too much money – but it’s generally recognised to do a reasonable job.

The current Labour government spent a shedload of money on the NHS a couple of years ago and brought down waiting times for all manner of operations. It also (by mistake) paid the doctors a huge raise, with no commitment in return. So the doctors were happy.

Here are some points:
1    Everyone is entitled to see a doctor and have hospital care, free of charge. A levy called National Insurance paid by employees and employers is supposed to pay for this (and more) but it’s not enough (check this).
2    For accidents and emergencies the NHS is superb. No private hospital can match it.
3    There are lots of private hospitals and health schemes. They’re of variable quality. Basically you pay for nicer surroundings and easier access to specialists.
3    You pay for your prescriptions, but this is a fixed fee (about £5.70 I think). Private patients pay more. Over 60 and children pay nothing (yippee!)
4    Old people are going to cost the NHS dear.
5    Some stuff is controversial – fertility treatment for example, and life-prolonging drugs which are hideously expensive and only work for a year. A committee called NICE arbitrates the subsidy of expensive medicines. It generally gets the balance right.
6    The Labour government made a huge mistake 10 years ago by bringing in a pile of ‘professional’ managers to run the NHS (previously it was doctors and nurses). This put the costs up massively but arguably without making doctors, hospitals and nurses any more available. The Labour government couldn’t manage its way out of a paper bag.
7    The biggest government IT project in the world is the NHS ITification. The aim is to put all doctors, pharmacies and hospitals online ia a private broadband network (called the NHS Spine) making patient records, etc available to everyone. Imagine the security issues. Predictably, it has cost billions (of pounds), made loads of IT consultants rich, and achieved close
to bugger all.

There’s lots more!

It should be noted that the taxes in England are much higher than they are here. And, according to Point 1, it’s still not enough to cover the cost of the program.

My friend is the picture of health and has little need of the system. He also leans to the left. I took that in account while reading the points he didn’t seem to be concerned with.

I think he is absolutely correct with Point 4 – old people will cost the system dearly. They’re (or should I say we’re) already putting a massive strain on Medicare – which is costing about ten times what our politicians predicted when they put it in place.

Point 5 concerns me. A committee (NICE) makes the decisions concerning life-prolonging drugs. What constitutes a life prolonging drug? Insulin?

This combined with Point 6 – government management sucks – are my biggest concern with any nationalized plan.

So, my jury is still out. I’m not convinced that Nationalized health care is good and I’m not convinced it is evil.

What I am convinced about is President Obama and his congress are trying to shove something down our throats and they don’t even know exactly what it is. I’m amazed at how many Americans seem to be unconcerned.

I’m also wondering what the reaction would have been if George W. Bush and his congress had tried similar ram-rod tactics. Were the Bush haters so glad to replace him that they’re willing to let Obama become the next Hitler?


I’m NOT a Salesman

July 21, 2009

During my career with IBM, I was occasionally asked to go into sales. As a Systems Engineer and customer education instructor, I had a thorough knowledge of the product line. That is something IBM held in high regard way back when.

My answer was always “No” because of my personality. While I could firmly believe that I knew what was best for a customer, I never felt I was persuasive enough to convince anybody that I was right. Furthermore, being a ‘people person’ I would not be able to convince a customer to spend money on IBM equipment if it meant laying off employees to fit the expense into the budget.

So, here I am – many years later – trying to sell a ‘product’ to the members of my church. While I am convinced it is the best solution to our on-going problem (paying the mortgage), I doubt if I’ll be able to convince people to change their spending habits for the sake of our church.

The product I’ll be ‘selling’ to our congregation is called scrip. Very simply, we will sell gift cards to our members. They will pay face value and receive face value. However, we will buy the gift cards at a discount. The savings will go toward our debt reduction.

On the surface, it’s a great way to raise money. If I buy a one hundred dollar gift card for WalMart, I’ll be able to spend one hundred dollars at WalMart, and the church will have a few dollars to apply to the debt.

My bride and I recognize that we’ll have to drastically change our spending habits to take part in the program. Normally, we make all our purchases using credit cards and pay the bills in total at the end of the month. We’re literally using the bank’s money for a month… at no charge.

With the scrip program, we’ll have to pay cash-in-advance for the gift cards. It won’t cost us any more than we normally spend, but we’ll be using our own money instead of the bank’s during the month.

We have only one credit card that pays cash dividends for its use. It doesn’t pay much, but it was better than nothing. Lots of people have cards that reward them with frequent flier miles and other benefits. They’ll have to decide if helping to pay down our church’s debt is worth losing the points. There’s a good possibility that the new credit card legislation will solve this issue for us, but I can understand why people might want to continue with their status quo until the perks disappear.

I’ve done some calculations. If we managed to get one hundred percent participation in the scrip program, we’d net close to a hundred thousand dollars a year to apply to our debt reduction. And no one would be asked to donate any additional money to the church. From that perspective, it’s one of the best products I’ve ever seen.

The challenge remains – can I convince others.

Stay tuned. I’ll let you know how it goes.

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Also stay tuned for my take on President Obama’s health care plans. I’ve viewed two videos on the subject. One was put together by a Canadian trying to use humor to demonstrate how terrible Socialized Medicine is. The other was put together by a union to demonstrate how much better the Canadian system is.

I’m sure both have used statistics and facts to fit their arguments. In any case, I’m trying to go beyond what I’m hearing on the Fox News Channel, and the three major networks. I figure the truth lies somewhere in the middle.

One thing that puzzles me… why do unions continue to support the politicians who are causing jobs to be lost? I would think they’d get behind the Libertarians and, like many of us, say that all incumbent professional politicians need to be replaced.

Are the union leaders getting special treatment? Are they betraying their membership for their own gains? It wouldn’t be the first time such things have happened in this country.