Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Mark Twain

        Mark Twain (1835-1910) is the pen name of Samuel Langhorne Clemens.  One of Clemens many occupations was working on Mississippi steamboats, and later becoming a steamboat pilot.
A steamboat leadsman’s job was to measure the depth of the water.  When the river depth was two fathoms (12 feet), it was safe for a steamboat.  The leadsman would then call out “Mark Twain” to the pilot.  Clemons took this for his pen name. 
Mark Twain is a great American author and humorist.  He is best known for his books The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876), and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885).  Many people think these books are children’s books, but this is not true.  The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is lighter reading and based on Clemons’ life growing up on the Mississippi.  The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is often called “The Great American Novel”.  It deals with many of the issues of the day.  Ernest Hemmingway once called Mark Twain the greatest author of all time, and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn the greatest book ever written. 
I love some of Mark Twain’s humorist statements on politics.  I find it amazing how many are just as true today as when he made them. 
“No man’s life, liberty, or property is safe while the legislation is in session.”  This is certainly still true.  The primary objective of the political elite of both parties seems to grow government and redistribute wealth at any cost.
“The only difference between a tax man and a taxidermist is that the taxidermist leaves the skin.”  It costs a lot of money to run a large and continually growing federal government, especially one that is full of waste and corruption. 
“Suppose you were an idiot.  And suppose you were a member of congress.  But then I repeat myself.”  Congress still seems to be incompetent, but I don’t think they are idiots.  Until we have term limits and campaign spending reform, an incumbent’s primary goal will be raising money and getting reelected.  I see why our Founding Fathers never wanted a position in Congress to be a full-time job or career.
“There is no distinctly Native American criminal class, save Congress.”  If Clemens felt that way during his lifetime, I wonder what he would think is he was here today.  There is a new scandal and cover-up every week.  Why do we put up with it?
“If you don’t read the newspaper you are uniformed.  If you do read the newspaper you are misinformed.”  Today we read the newspaper less and get more of our news from television and the Internet.  The big three TV networks do their best to keep us misinformed.  Our Founding Fathers felt a responsible media and religion were both essential to the success and survival of this great republic.  What is happening?
        Will Rogers is another political humorist that I like and have previously written about.  He said, “I don’t make jokes.  I just watch the government and report the facts.”  This is certainly still true today. 
I find it interesting that Clemens (1835-1910) and Rogers (1879-1935) both made similar jokes about our federal government that are even truer today.  The problem is that big government and government debt have grown to the point that it is making the American dream impossible for future generations. 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

$5 Billion Waste

        It is estimated that the 2106 presidential race will cost five billion dollars.  Think about this for a moment.  What a waste.  The only people who benefit are the media and people providing advertising.  Think of all the good that could be done with that money. 
        I would not be upset about this if it was used to educate people about a candidate’s actual qualifications, but many political ads are misleading or outright lies.  A good campaign slogan is essential to recruit the uninformed voter.  Just think about “Hope & Change”.  This was a great slogan.  Everyone could interpret it to mean whatever he or she wanted.  The fact that the candidate had never held a full-time job except as a community organizer in Chicago was irrelevant.   I have lived in the Chicago area twice, and what community organizers do would be illegal in most parts of the country. 
        This waste is not just in Presidential elections.  It costs $10 million to as much as $50 million to run for the US Senate.  It costs $1 million to as much as $3 million to run for the US House of Representatives. 
        I find it interesting that approximately 90% of all Congressional incumbents win reelection.  This is certainly not because they are doing such a good job.  Approval ratings for Congress are in the toilet.
        If Congress is doing such a poor job, why do they win reelection?  The answer is money.  Incumbents in the House outspend their challengers three times.  Incumbents in the Senate spend over twice what their challengers spend. 
        Incumbents have other advantages.  The government pays for many things such as staff, postage, and travel.   The incumbent also has the advantage of having a paying job while campaigning.  Part of that job is talking to voters in their district, i.e. campaigning.  Incumbents have run at least one previous campaign which means they are known in their district.
        The incumbent also has the advantage in fund raising.  He or she has more contacts, including lobbyists and people looking for favorable legislation, political appointments, or favors.  I have heard estimates that members of Congress spend around 40% of their time on campaigning and fund raising and only 60% of their time performing the job of running the country.  Why aren’t we angry with that?
        We must have campaign spending reform if we are going to take this country back from the political elite and restore it to greatness.  We have to control and limit campaign spending.  We need to put Presidential and Congressional candidates on a level playing field financially, and we must stop big money from buying elections. 

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

War With Islam

     This is not politically correct, but needs to be addressed.  Our government can criticize the Christian crusades, but won’t criticize Muslims in any way.  The fact that the Christian crusades were in reaction to Muslim conquests seems to be irrelevant.  Here is a brief summary of Muslim conquests.

610-750 – Conquest of Byzantine and Sassanid
633-651 – Conquest of Persia and Mesopotamia
637 – Conquest of Syria
639 – Conquest of Armenia
639 – Conquest of Egypt
644 – Conquest of Iraq/Persia
652 – Conquest of North Africa
654 – Conquest of Cyprus
662-751 – Conquest of Transoxiana
664-712 – Conquest of Sindh
665 – Second conquest of North Africa
674-678 – First siege of Constantinople
700-1600 – Conquest of Nubia
711-718 – Conquest of Hispania
711-750 – Attempts to conquer Caucasus
717-718 – Second siege of Constantinople
718-750 – Umayyad conquests
719-720 – Conquest Septimania
736 – Conquest of Georgia
820- Conquest of Crete
827 – Conquest of Sicily and invade southern Italy
831-902 – Invade central and southern Italy
1060-1360 – Conquest of Anatolia
1299-1453 – Byzantine-Ottoman Wars
1200-1800 – Conquests in Eastern Europe, Asia, and India
1801-1805 – U.S Barbary War with Tripoli
1815-1816 – U.S. Barbary War with Algiers

Do you see a pattern here?

The tactics of the Islamic war have changed to a terrorist war except for some areas like Iraq and Afghanistan, and some Islamic groups like Isis, which take and hold ground.
I am not going to list terrorist’s attacks against Americans on foreign soil, although it is hard to ignore civilian beheadings, attacks against our military like the USS Cole, and attacks on our embassies like Benghazi.  We t end to think we are safe at home because oceans insulate us, but that is not true.  Here is a list of Islamic terrorist attacks on American soil. 

Date                    City/State                            Killed         Injured
4/14/1972           New York, NY                         1                 3
1/19/1973           Brooklyn, NY                          1                 1
7/01/1973           Bethesda, MD                        1                 0
7/18/1973           Washington, DC                     8                 2
10/19/1973         Oakland, CA                           1                 1
10/29/1973         Berkeley, CA                          1                 0
11/25/1973         Oakland, CA                           1                 0      
12/11/1973         Oakland, CA                           1                 0
12/13/1973         Oakland, CA                           1                 0
12/20/1973         Oakland, CA                           1                 0
12/22/1973         Oakland, CA                           2                 0
12/24/1973         Oakland, CA                           1                 0
1/24/1974           Oakland, CA                           4                 1
4/01/1974           Oakland, CA                           1                 1
4/16/1974           Ingleside, CA                         1                 0
3/09/1977           Washington, DC                    1                 1
7/22/1980           Bethesda, MD                        1                 0
8/31/1980           Savou, IL                                2                 0
11/06/1989         St. Louis, MO                         1                 0
1/31/1990           Tucson, AZ                            1                 0
11/05/1990         New York, NY                         1                 0
1/25/1993           Langley, VA                            2                 3
2/26/1993           New York, NY                         6          1040       
3/01/1994           Brooklyn, NY                          1                  0
3/23/1997           New York, NY                         1                 6
4/03/1997           Lompoc, CA                           1                 0
3/17/2000           Atlanta, GA                             1                 1
9/11/2001           Washington, DC                184               53
9/11/2001           Shanksville, PA                    40                 0
9/11/2001           New York, NY                   2752            251
3/19/2002           Tucson, AZ                            1                 0
5/27/2002           Denton, TX                            1                 0
7/04/2002           Los Angeles, CA                   2                 0
9/05/2002           Clinton, MD                            1                 0
9/21/2002           Montgomery, AL                    1                 1
9/23/2002           Baton Rouge, LA                   1                 0
10/02/2002         Wheaton, MD                         1                 0
10/03/2002         Montgomery, MD                   5                 0
10/09/2002         Manassas, VA                        1                 1
10/11/2002         Fredericksburg, VA               1                 0
10/14/2002         Arlington, VA                          1                 0
10/22/2002         Aspen Hill, MD                       1                 0
8/06/2003           Houston, TX                           1                 0
12/02/2003         Chicago, IL                             1                 0
4/13/2004           Raleigh, NC                            1                 4
4/15/2004           Scottsville, NY                        1                 2
6/16/2006           Baltimore, MD                        1                 0
6/25/2006           Denver, CO                            1                 5
7/28/2006           Seattle, WA                            1                 5
1/01/2008           Irving, TX                                2                 0
7/06/2008           Jonesboro, GA                      1                 0
2/12/2009           Buffalo, NY                             1                 0
4/12/ 2009          Phoenix, AZ                           2                 0
6/01/2009           Little Rock, AR                       1                 1
11/02/2009         Glendale, AZ                          1                 1
11/05/2009         Ft. Hood, TX                        13               31
12/04/2009         Binghamton, NY                     1                 0
4/14/2010           Marquette Park, IL                 5                 2
4/30/2011           Warren, MI                             1                 0
9/11/2011           Waltham, MA                         3                 0
1/15/2012           Houston, TX                          1                 0
2/07/2013           Buena Vista, NJ                    2                 0
3/24/2013           Ashtabula, OH                       1                 0
4/15/2013           Boston, MA                           3             264
4/19/2013           Boston, MA                           1                 1
8/04/2013           Richmond, CA                      1                 0
3/06/2014           Port Bolivar, TX                    2                 0
4/27/2014           Skyway, WA                         1                  0
6/01/2014           Seattle, WA                          2                  0
6/25/2014           West Orange, NJ                 1                  0
9/25/2014           Moore, OK                            1                 1

That adds up to 3,103 Americans killed by Muslims on American soil in 75 terrorists attacks.  The number of attacks surprised me.  Many just killed one person, which may seem insignificant unless it happened to you or your family.  This list does not address any terrorist acts that were stopped by law enforcement, or brave citizens.
Why don’t we hear more about these attacks?  When we do hear about them, they are also not identified correctly.  Calling the Ft. Hood attack “workplace violence” is a joke.  If a white police office kills a black person, it is on the news for months even if the action is justified.  We need to get our priorities straight.
The Muslim religion has always demanded continual expansion or conversion by whatever means possible.  The saying, “Kill all infidels” is still considered part of the Muslim religion by the Islamic extremists.  I am not saying all Muslims are bad, but the peace loving Muslims must take a more active role in stopping violent extremists.  A passive response by Muslims to terrorist’s acts condones those acts.
We are at war with radical Islam.  We all better recognize and deal with that fact.  As Winson Churchill said before WWII, “Fight your enemy while you can beat them.”  I hope we don’t wait until it escalates to WWIII.


Tuesday, June 9, 2015


      Two measures of a country’s productivity are the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and the Gross National Product (GNP).  They both measure the value of goods and services produced.  The GDP counts all goods and services produced in the United States including those procuced by foreign individuals and companies, but nothing that id produced outside the country.  The GNP counts goods and services produced by only Americans and American owned companies anywhere in the world.  This is sometimes referred to as Gross National Income (GNI).
The difference between Gross National Product and the Gross Domestic Product may be significant and relevant. The United States estimated the GNP at $16.455 trillion and the GDP at $16.768 trillion in 2014.  This means foreign owned companies produced $313 billion more goods and services in the United States than American owned companies produced out of the country. 
Does this mean American companies should have more overseas production or that Americans should own more of the companies operating in this country?  That is a question that is beyond my area of expertise, BUT if we don’t reform and lower our corporate tax structure, we will have more and more American companies moving their headquarters out of the country.  That will have catastrophic consequences for our country.
Some economists used to predict that government debt was not a problem until it exceeded the GNP or GDP.  The debt then could create serious problems.  News flash, the national debt has exceeded $18 trillion.  We have exceeded that limit and better wake up.
If we are going to restore the American Dream, we need American entrepreneurs to produce products and provide services.  We need government to get out of the way.  I recently heard that six of the ten wealthiest counties in this country were in the Washington DC area.  How can this be?  Washington DC produces nothing.  The only thing they do is what some people call “legalized larceny” in order to redistribute wealth.
Many years ago I attended a Governor’s meeting on international trade.  Only about one hundred people attended, but several manufacturing companies in the state, and representatives from Europe, Asia, and the Middle East were represented.  There were some very interesting speakers on import/export and international law. I was fortunate to have some representative from Asia at the table in front of me so I could overhear them.
I found some of their comments very interesting.  They did not understand why the United States gave medical doctors and attorneys such high social and economic status.  These professions were vital in their country, but they considered them to be in a service category.  They place the international traders and heads of industry at the top of the social and economic status.  They also found it interesting that many American companies only planned twelve months in advance.  They planned for decades in the future.
If we are going to restore the American dream for future generations, we better get our priorities right and get the Federal Government out of the way. 

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Back to the Basics

      When businesses get in trouble, the solution is very often to go back the basics.  In my book, Business Fits, I give many real life examples from the last forty-five years.  It is interesting how technology changes, but the basics of business don’t change. 
      I think we need to go back to the basics in government too.  Last week Rick Santorum announced that he was running for president.  He is a conservative who says he wants to restore the American dream for hard working Americans.  He gave simple workable solutions for tax reform, the war on terror, immigration reform, protecting individual rights (even for Christians), and stopping the out-of-control growth of government and government spending. 
      His solutions were simple and workable except for the problem of big business, big government, and the political elite that do not want to give up their power and control.  Both big government and big business are in cahoots together.  To blame one and not the other is naive.
      One of the shows I enjoy is The Five on FOX.  When they covered Santorum’s announcement, several people on the panel criticized him because he didn’t have any new and innovative ideas.  The panel disgusted me with these statements.  We don’t need new and unique ideas.  We need to get back to the basics and the Constitution.  We need to elect a qualified President that wants to restore the American dream.  I am not endorsing Santorum, but I liked what he said. 
      We don’t need a rock star or celebrity for our President.  We need someone with knowledge and experience that will represent the working class and the American entrepreneur.  There is a marketing strategy in business called “Sell the Sizzle.”  This strategy is effective, but the product must be a good steak.  Just the sizzle with no meat doesn’t work.  How many of you are old enough to remember the old Wendy’s “Where’s the Meat” ad campaign?
It was nice to have a black president, but it would have been better for the country if he had some experience.  I am an advocate of on-the-job training in business, but not in the Presidency. 
It would be nice to have a woman president at some point in time, but more importantly, we need a qualified President that will address the nations problems.  We need a president who is not in bed with big business and big government.  We need a President that will restore the American dream for the American worker.  We need to take this country back from the political elite.