"The most significant threat to our national security is our debt," Admiral Michael Mullen, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, August 27,2010


Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Deficit Trials

In 1986, an American company, WR Grace, prepared a TV ad dealing with their concern over America’s growing level of debt. The ad was not shown. The networks deemed it to be too controversial. Now that simple statement is worthy of several essays alone. But we, today, want you to just click on that ad and see the future as those with a foundation in fundamentals saw it so clearly, 25 years ago:

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AiBCRQL58_k

In case you're wondering. "What was the US debt in 1986 when the ad was made?"  The debt of the United States as of September 30, 1986:  $2.125 trillion.  Today, it is $14.216 trillion. An almost seven fold increase in 25 years.

We know that many Americans are concerned about the US debt but have no idea what to do about it.  Frankly, we don't really have to do anything about it.  We can just let it keep rising at this geometric pace and all will occur in accord with our simple formula: deficits = debt = destruction. 

The snake oil being sold to all of us by the likes of Greenspan, Bernanke, Krugman and Geithner has been well documented on these pages.  Will any of this matter to them?  Of course not.  It will only matter to our grandchildren, just as presented in the WR Grace video twenty five years ago.

In 200+ years the debt of the US grew to $2 trillion.  Resulting in massive devaluation of the purchasing power of the dollar (please click on "Purchasing Power of Dollar" in Key Statistics section at right.)  In the past 25 years the debt has grown by $12 trillion.  What do we have to show for $12 trillion that we could not have done without?   We owe our grandchildren an answer to that question.

Watch the children in the video.  Detroit is their future. 

Never in the history of our world has a generation of entitled people been so selfish.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Why do great nations fail?

You most likely have seen the TV commercial by now. It starts out with the title of our essay – why do great nations fail? It appears to be some form of Chinese lecture hall, a smug professorial type lecturing to an auditorium of observant young people. It catalogs a series of historic failures and then focuses on the United States and its promiscuous spending and debt and closes with the conclusion that Americans now work for the Chinese because they (the audience) hold the debt. Also, at the end, they mock us with smug giggling. Pretty good stuff. It most certainly supports the fundamental that a picture is worth thousands of words. But is it on target? Is the ad accurate? Does it tell the real story?

Well, if you are a follower of TheFundamentals you would probably answer that question in the affirmative. After all, our catchy phrase, deficits = debt = destruction, is the basic theme of that ad. By the way, the ad is the product of an outfit called Citizens Against Government Waste. You can check them out at http://www.cagw.org/  and also view the 60 second ad there. By all means do so if you haven’t seen it.

But back to our questions? Does the ad tell the whole story about why nations fail? And the answer does need a bit further investigation. Are the spending and the deficits and the debt the whole story? Is it just an entitlement mentality coupled with corrupt politicians pandering to their special interests and a whole bunch of “protected classes” of voters who they depend upon for their continued survivability?

Why do great nations fail? Why is the United States so close to failure?

The answer is that we have forgotten or chosen to deliberately ignore why we were successful. And that issue does go deeper than the spending and the deficits and the debt. It even goes deeper than the Chinese holding so much debt and buying up so much of our productive capability and our intellectual know how and our priceless, intangible competitiveness.

We have chosen to burden the source of our success. And that source is wealth creation. Wealth creation is making things and growing things and extracting things. The source of all wealth in contained within those few brief words/concepts. That’s all there is to it. If you want jobs; real jobs. If you want growth so that there are good jobs for a growing population you had better grasp that you need to create wealth. And to create wealth you need to seize what is in the ground and either sell it to others or do something with it yourself and then sell that end product to others. You need to grow and cultivate the flora and fauna and feed nations with the end product. And make other usable products from the left over’s. You see, by doing these simple things, you create wealth. You create jobs. Lots of jobs.

Now if you decide that you want to make a better world and burden those simple processes with things like laws and rules and taxes and regulation and fees and interference from powerful forces like government bureaucrats and union organizers and do gooders and groups of people with their focused interests on higher pay and higher benefits and more say so in when you can do what; then you are making a choice to burden the very source of your success. At TheFundamentals we liken this activity to the old fable about the golden goose. The goose you see laid one gold egg every day. And that egg was the source of wealth for the farmer and his wife. But they became curious about why only one egg? Could we get two or three? So they dismantled (our politically correct choice of descriptive words so that no persons self esteem is damaged) the goose to investigate. And guess what happened? Yep. They killed the goose.

So the next time you see the ad remember, please, these three things:

1. Without economic strength there is no strength
2. Economic strength comes from wealth creation
3. Too much burden (dismantling) kills wealth creation

Bernanke wants you to think it is really complex.  It’s not that all that complicated folks.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Faces of Entitlement

As our nation cuts back in Washington and as our states cut back everywhere but Illinois, New York and California, the weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth of the unions and their only apparent lifeline to the future, public employees, will rise to a level that will make the state capitol gallery in Madison Wisconsin over the last several weeks look like the peanut gallery on the old Howdy Doody show. Public employees constitute about 16% of the nation’s employment. The total workforce, when employed, is about 150 million. With 10% unemployment, those employed drop to about 135 million. Of the 135 million working about 22 million work for state, local and federal governments. Not inconsequential percentages but most certainly nowhere near an adequate minority to justify their howling, whining, threatening and drastic level of complaining which TheFundamentals accurately predicted would happen in its April 9, 2010 essay entitled, “A Modest Suggestion.” http://thefundamentalsus.blogspot.com/2010/04/modest-suggestion.html

Simply put, public employees do not face the discipline of the marketplace which means competition and the fear of going out of business. Private sector workers know you must compete on wages, benefits and pensions and, most importantly, results to survive. On the other hand, without competition, public employees develop an entitlement mentality that is now being challenged by the much larger private workforce which is simply saying, “ENOUGH!!” These private sector worker/taxpayers expect the politicians they are electing to diminish the massive gap in wages, benefits and pensions. These private sector workers/taxpayers are not going to go away regardless of the lies, distortions and distractions created by union organizers like Richard Trumka and Andy Stern and Karen Lewis (see below.)

These three and their ilk are fighting a big uphill battle. Most people who work in the United States work in the private sector for a lot less salary and wages; a lot less benefits and days off and most do not have anything even close to a pension plan that lets them retire with 70 or 80% of their last few years paychecks after 25 or 30 years on the job. They get nothing even close to that kind of pension. More than likely they get to contribute a portion of their lower salary to a defined contribution plan (IRA or 401k) and their employer kicks in 2 – 4% of their paycheck and then the employee gets to invest the money and try to accumulate additional funds to supplement their social security check proceeds which are being discounted if applied for before the age of 66.

So, the gap between government pay and private pay is large; the benefit and days off gap is even larger and the pension/retirement plan gap is off the charts it’s so out of balance.

The disparity must end. There is a large group of current public employee retirees that have been fortunate in getting the excessive payments. The current public employees will face cut backs and will have to contribute more and new government employees will find their benefit and retirement plans much more comparable to the private sector. If they don’t like that situation let them go to their over pensioned predecessors and get some of their loot.   That would be an interesting test of "solidarity."

In the meantime, don’t expect the howling to abate right away. The howlers will demand tax increases on the middle class and the upper class wage earners. And soon the howlers and their union organizers will recognize that the largese they have grown to expect is the direct result of a growing private workforce and they will conclude that the fastest way to achieve more largese is a combination of protectionism, tariffs and currency controls (i.e. trade restrictions.)

Both movements must be fought and must be decided on behalf of the private sector workers. There is no alternative to rebuilding the jobs growth foundation of the American economy than the long overdue cutback of public sector employment numbers, public sector employee wages and benefits and the replacement of the current defined benefit pension programs with a combination of social security and IRA/401k plans. It’s happening just as we predicted. It’s about to be joined at the national level. Folks, the civil "servant" war is underway in America.  The faces or the entitled are shown above.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Pensions v. Services

One of the viewpoints seldom mentioned in the mainstream media's malingering and methodical mustering of support for anything government; anything union and anything entitlement related has to do with our topic today. TheFundamentals would conjecture that you, our readers, have not missed out on the simple point that taxpayer money paid for pensions to millions of government retirees is not available for buying goods and services that are needed by "public service" recipients.   Now that is a rather combobulated way of saying that even if you are a big or even a medium supporter of government programs and handouts and stimulus deals and other “public service” things that government employees says they are doing for you, then you would be at the head of the line demanding that your taxpayer funds are going to be spent on all those programs and activities and not directed into the hands of pension recipients. Unless, of course, you think that there is an endless supply of more and more taxpayer funds. Even the simplest thinker in the media and in government employ can grasp that priorities must be set and priorities would seem to favor the goods and services over the pensions.

But we don’t hear that argument in the media other than from a few combative governors, who are trying to cut back on wages, benefits and pensions so that services can receive top priority. What services you say? Well, how about education services and how about road maintenance and how about infrastructure building and how about water systems and sewage systems and how about public transportation and how about special care for the many needy children and handicapped citizens and just plain suffering humans in our neighborhoods and hospitals and community centers? At TheFundamentals, we support helping the needy and being good care givers to those without alternatives. We just happen to think that providing such goods and services is a much greater priority than funding collective bargaining agreements and phenomenally rich pension programs that have found their genesis in said “bargaining agreements.”

So, the question to our friends who are so adamant in their upraised voices for union positions on matters of employment, wages, benefits and, most of all, pensions is, “Do you think there is an endless source of funding for both services and pensions and, assuming you agree that there are not, what are your priorities – services or pensions?” See this article in the Sarasota newspaper in which, apparently, the very wealthy fantasy and science fiction writer, Stephen King, does think that you can have it all: http://www.heraldtribune.com/article/20110309/BREAKING/110309471  We say to folks like Steve – go for it. In your fantasy world you may not need to set priorities.  Send in your own money if you think there is no problem with supporting everything with no priority setting.   Remember this website?  https://www.pay.gov/paygov/forms/formInstance.html?agencyFormId=23779454   It's for people like Steve who want to spend their own money to pay down the US debt.  How much have you sent in recently, Steve?  But, for the rest of us who set priorities in our lives, our priorities for tax payments are goods and services; not pensions.

If you have followed our many essays on this topic, you know that setting priorities is a fiscal fundamental. We all set priorities. Some make a Mercedes Benz in their garage a priority. Some are happy with a car that starts and runs. Usually, not always, the priority we set has something to do with our available resources. We always seem to come back to this resource issue. Now, at TheFundamentals, we say no to borrowing and no to printing currency. We do understand that there is a group out there, on both sides of the political spectrum,  that do not embrace this fundamental. But most of us do accept the basic concept of the need to make choices.

So, what is your choice?  If we can't have it all, do we prefer goods and services over pensions?   At TheFundamentals, we support goods and services over pensions. Where do you stand?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The "Invade Iraq" Letter

January 26, 1998

The Honorable William J. Clinton
President of the United States
Washington, DC

Dear Mr. President:

We are writing you because we are convinced that current American policy toward Iraq is not succeeding, and that we may soon face a threat in the Middle East more serious than any we have known since the end of the Cold War. In your upcoming State of the Union Address, you have an opportunity to chart a clear and determined course for meeting this threat. We urge you to seize that opportunity, and to enunciate a new strategy that would secure the interests of the U.S. and our friends and allies around the world. That strategy should aim, above all, at the removal of Saddam Hussein’s regime from power. We stand ready to offer our full support in this difficult but necessary endeavor.

The policy of “containment” of Saddam Hussein has been steadily eroding over the past several months. As recent events have demonstrated, we can no longer depend on our partners in the Gulf War coalition to continue to uphold the sanctions or to punish Saddam when he blocks or evades UN inspections. Our ability to ensure that Saddam Hussein is not producing weapons of mass destruction, therefore, has substantially diminished. Even if full inspections were eventually to resume, which now seems highly unlikely, experience has shown that it is difficult if not impossible to monitor Iraq’s chemical and biological weapons production. The lengthy period during which the inspectors will have been unable to enter many Iraqi facilities has made it even less likely that they will be able to uncover all of Saddam’s secrets. As a result, in the not-too-distant future we will be unable to determine with any reasonable level of confidence whether Iraq does or does not possess such weapons.

Such uncertainty will, by itself, have a seriously destabilizing effect on the entire Middle East. It hardly needs to be added that if Saddam does acquire the capability to deliver weapons of mass destruction, as he is almost certain to do if we continue along the present course, the safety of American troops in the region, of our friends and allies like Israel and the moderate Arab states, and a significant portion of the world’s supply of oil will all be put at hazard. As you have rightly declared, Mr. President, the security of the world in the first part of the 21st century will be determined largely by how we handle this threat.

Given the magnitude of the threat, the current policy, which depends for its success upon the steadfastness of our coalition partners and upon the cooperation of Saddam Hussein, is dangerously inadequate. The only acceptable strategy is one that eliminates the possibility that Iraq will be able to use or threaten to use weapons of mass destruction. In the near term, this means a willingness to undertake military action as diplomacy is clearly failing. In the long term, it means removing Saddam Hussein and his regime from power. That now needs to become the aim of American foreign policy.

We urge you to articulate this aim, and to turn your Administration's attention to implementing a strategy for removing Saddam's regime from power. This will require a full complement of diplomatic, political and military efforts. Although we are fully aware of the dangers and difficulties in implementing this policy, we believe the dangers of failing to do so are far greater. We believe the U.S. has the authority under existing UN resolutions to take the necessary steps, including military steps, to protect our vital interests in the Gulf. In any case, American policy cannot continue to be crippled by a misguided insistence on unanimity in the UN Security Council.

We urge you to act decisively. If you act now to end the threat of weapons of mass destruction against the U.S. or its allies, you will be acting in the most fundamental national security interests of the country. If we accept a course of weakness and drift, we put our interests and our future at risk.

Sincerely,

Elliott Abrams   Richard L. Armitage   William J. Bennett

Jeffrey Bergner   John Bolton   Paula Dobriansky

Francis Fukuyama   Robert Kagan   Zalmay Khalilzad

William Kristol   Richard Perle   Peter W. Rodman

Donald Rumsfeld   William Schneider, Jr.   Vin Weber

Paul Wolfowitz   R. James Woolsey   Robert B. Zoellick













Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Meltdown

It is estimated that the Japanese culture began at least 10000 years ago. That is 100 centuries or 1000 decades. America has existed for 400 years or 4 centuries or 40 decades. Why is this of some import as we watch American television (can you imagine anything worse that having Diane Sawyer showing up at your own personal tragedy, say a death in the family or a bad accident or a missing child, and acting as if she was concerned?) and all they want to do is keep talking about meltdowns. Well Diane and all your silly “media personalities” at Fox and NBC and PBS and CNN, please read on.

Japan will survive just fine. They will help each other; they will expect and receive valuable assistance from their public servants and they will welcome the assistance of others who have expertise that they need in this time of devastation. But, Diane, what they do not need is you and your silly camp followers interfering with their way of dealing with this natural disaster. They know what needs to be done. Please leave them alone so that they can clean up; mourn their horrible losses and help each other. Please turn off the cameras; turn off the microphones; turn off the lights and either help out or go back to your four star hotels and have a drink in the fancy restaurant and then leave. Please leave and don’t force any more struggling humans to have to also try to be accommodating to your demands while they are trying to get to tomorrow and take care of their children and their other loved ones.

Now, will you listen? Of course not. You are an American. You are an American media person. No one could possibly know what they are saying if they suggest you either turn off the equipment and help out or just leave. No one can tell a brilliant American media person that just leaving would be an act of charity.

But here is the carrot Diane. A special incentive just for you. Here is what you are missing. Here is where you can actually scoop all those brilliant journalists and the folks from the national press clubs and the gang back at the New York soirees. Here is why TheFundamentals is addressing this message just to you Diane. You are the great seeker of important news. You like to get there first with the camera; the microphones; the personal interviews with victims and government personnel. The experts. Be they academics or bureaucrats or consultants or those special folks who you know because of your vast network and your experience and your wisdom in all these matters of disasters; of meltdowns.

Here is the scoop Diane.

We will whisper it. Just for you

There is a meltdown taking place back home. That’s right Diane. Right now. Right here. A meltdown that will not be overcome as will the aftermath of the Japanese earthquake and resulting tsunami. No. The meltdown in the homeland will not go away Diane. We know that you are counting on those really smart fellows like Bernanke and that little guy from the NYTimes – Krugman and that genius Greenspan and all those really smart people from the east coast that you see at all those parties. But you see Diane; this tragedy is going on all over America. Not just on the coasts but those are not bad places to start – like the Jersey coast and the California coast and the Long Island coast and the Maryland coast. But there is more. You can go to the Midwest where there is no coast and you can find the meltdown moving along just fine. You can go to the southwest and find meltdown. You can go to the northeast and find meltdown. It’s all over Diane. It’s just waiting for you and your heroic news folk to show up. But you see Diane there is one small difference between our local meltdown that you and the boys have been missing and the Japanese meltdown that is very well defined. You see Diane our meltdown is of our own making. The poor Japanese needed Mother Nature to give them theirs. But here at home we are doing it to ourselves.

Now that’s a story we would like to see you cover. American meltdown. No earthquakes. No tsunamis. Nope. Just greed. Just laziness. Just a whole bunch of arrogance. Mixed in with glorious quantities of foolishness. In America we don’t need earthquakes to produce tsunamis to produce meltdowns. We do it the easy way. We spend money we don’t have on things we don’t need. We borrow and borrow and we find brilliant economists to justify the process. We create currency from computer transactions. And then we sit back and justify it. We actually hire politicians to do the justification. And we count on people like you to run to foreign lands and ignore what is going on here. Our meltdown is moving along just fine, thank you.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

NPR: National Paranoia Radio

Americas partially publicly funded radio network apparently believes that those who provide a good portion of the “public funds” via the so-called Corporation for Progressive Broadcasting (aka Corp for Public Broadcasting) suffer from a variety of societal ills which they describe as racism, Islamaphobia and, this one we really think is the nuts – xenophobia. At least the NPR staff and listeners who paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for those fancy unusable east coast college degrees knew what they were talking about, huh? Correction: in the previous sentence we said “staff and listeners who paid.” That is incorrect. Their mommies and daddies and their beloved government paid for the unusable degrees.

First, before we proceed with our analysis of this wondrous NPR enlightenment, we would like to thank the folks at National Paranoia Radio for expanding the conversation on what ails the country. Here we thought it was the unneeded wars and all their costly destruction of lives and the unneeded spending and borrowing and debt that will most likely be repaid with dollars so devalued that it will take wheelbarrows of currency to fill up your gas tank. But no. It is not that complicated at all. It’s not wars and deficits and debt and greedy people at all. It’s that darn middle class; well, let’s call it the way the paranoids did; it’s that darn white middle class of working taxpayers who are afraid of their fellow black Americans and the growing group of Muslim Americans and almost anything else that doesn’t fall into the first two groups but, for the sake of this analysis, let’s just call them foreigners. What’s wrong with America, according to NPR, is what all this time we thought was right with America – the hard working middle class. We have got to get rid of that darn middle class. All those folks who don’t like Negroes; don’t like swarthy people with beards sitting next to them on the airplane and don’t like foreigners.

Thank you NPR for this enlightenment.

Now if you have followed our analysis this far, you might be aksing yourself, “Self, why do they want taxpayer funds from these Neanderthals in the white middle class?” Why not tell them to take their taxpayer money (that’s what we call “public funds”) and keep it? Well, we know and it goes like this:

1. Just because they think you are a Neanderthal does not mean that they won’t take your money to feather their comfy nests and provide fancy liquors and wines at the party’s they hold for their like thinking ilk that frequent places like Davos and the Aspen Institute and Bill Clinton’s global initiative to disrobe interns. As long as they don’t need to talk to you they will take your money. (lesson one)

2. They don’t like elections. Particularly elections just two years after they thought that they had reached the promised land and then all of a sudden the racist xenophobes go and vote out their majorities and replace them with people who talk about cutting back and doing without and acting responsibly. You see, the paranoids were not taught boundaries in their youth. They were taught to change the world. Using, of course, tax monies snitched from the middle class. (lesson two)

3. They are terrified down to their well pedicured little toesies that they might have to go out into the real world and rub elbows with the stinky racist, Islamaphobes and do things like make something or sell something or grow something (eeks.)

4. You see folks, they have no skills. They have degrees but no knowledge. They have traveled but they have not gone anywhere. They debate and discuss but do not challenge themselves. They see and live beyond the present because they are terrified of entering the arena of today and competing. (lesson three)

5. Now to the topic of xenophobia which is particularly intriguing to us in our analysis. The xenophobe is described as one who is afraid of the unknown of the bigger world, the experience that lies outside their carefully and closely placed boundaries. We ask “who is the real xenophobe?” Our neighbor in the middle class who goes to work every day; follows a set of beliefs, of fundamentals about being a good citizen by working, paying taxes, educating their children and looking out for others but not expecting handouts or cushy paychecks with fancy benefits and pensions? Or the person who insulates themselves in a world of unusable degrees paid for by mommy and daddy and government grants and loans and then surrounds themselves with like thinking people from academia and government and not for profits and foundations as they go about the pretension of solving only big problems with other people’s money?

The middle class is not paranoid. It knows when it is being attacked. Taken advantage of. Treated unfairly. Dismissed and disrespected by nonperforming fools who take the money of the middle class and then call them highfalutin names to show their lecture learning lunacy. The middle class does not care if you call them tea party activists or fundamentalists or just what they are: hard working, taxpaying citizens. They are fed up with feeding greedy, do nothing, lazy, over educated fops who self elevate in the name of dreamed about accomplishments.

NPR is a group of paranoid, over educated, under worked fools who are long overdue for a real world comeuppance. It’s called unemployment. Congress (House of Representatives), stick by the bill you passed and let NPR, PBS and CPB survive on their own. Obama calls these three outfits’ worthwhile and important priorities. Keep that in mind in 2012. In the meantime, no taxpayer money to these pandered fops.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Corruption Cabal: Unions and the Democratic Party, cont.

Continuing from yesterday --

AFSCME http://www.afscme.org/  “AFSCME’s 1.6 million members provide the vital services that make America happen and advocate for prosperity and opportunity for all working families. We are nurses, corrections officers, child care providers, EMTs and sanitation workers. For us, public service is not just a job, it’s a calling.”

AFGE http://www.afge.org/  “The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) is the largest federal employee union representing 600,000 federal and D.C. government workers nationwide and overseas. Workers in virtually all functions of government at every federal agency depend upon AFGE for legal representation, legislative advocacy, technical expertise and informational services. AFGE believes that all unions should belong to the house of labor and has been nationally affiliated with the AFL-CIO since AFGE was founded in 1932.”

AFT http://www.aft.org/  “The American Federation of Teachers, an affiliate of the AFL-CIO, was founded in 1916 and today represents 1.5 million members in more than 3,000 local affiliates nationwide. Five divisions within the AFT represent the broad spectrum of the AFT’s membership: pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; and nurses and other healthcare professionals. In addition, the AFT represents approximately 80,000 early childhood educators and nearly 250,000 retiree members.”

SEIU http://www.seiu.org/  “SEIU is the fastest-growing union in North America. Focused on uniting workers in three sectors to improve their lives and the services they provide, SEIU is:
• The largest healthcare union, with more than 1.1 million members in the field, including nurses, LPNs, doctors, lab technicians, nursing home workers, and home care workers
• The largest property services union, with 225,000 members in the building cleaning and security industries, including janitors, security officers, superintendents, maintenance workers, window cleaners, and doormen and women
• The second largest public services union, with more than 1 million local and state government workers, public school employees, bus drivers, and child care providers”

Before we close this essay we would like to refer you to a Chicago Tribune editorial dated Friday, February 25, 2011. Here are two excerpts from this editorial. These excerpts deal specifically with the tie in of AFSCME (see above) and the Democrats in power in Illinois and their state union employees:

“These AFSCME raises compound to total pay hikes north of 17 percent during the same years when many Illinois taxpayers — that is, the lucky ones who still have jobs — are seeing their own wages and benefits frozen or starkly curtailed:

• Jan. 1, 2009: 2.5 percent.
• July 1, 2009: 2.5 percent.
• Jan. 1, 2010: 2 percent.
• July 1, 2010: 1 percent.
• Jan. 1, 2011: 1 percent.
• June 1, 2011: 2 percent.
• July 1, 2011: 2 percent.
• Jan. 1, 2012: 1.25 percent.
• Feb. 1, 2012: 2 percent.”

“He (Quinn) also had assured state government's biggest union — which promptly endorsed him — of no layoffs at least until mid-2012. Oh, and Quinn (recently reelected Illinois governor) had agreed that none of the state institutions where members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees work, no matter how obsolete, would close.”

The entire editorial is available at: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/editorials/ct-edit-quinn-20110224,0,1484443.story

Does this combination of these unions and the Democratic Party provide you with cost efficient, measurable, quality services? Or does it simply cost you more for less?

These are not private sector unions organizing corporations or fast food outfits; auto companies or retailers where the consumer can just move on and pick a different store or car or hamburger joint if you don’t like the service or the product. These outfits organize government employees and then control government activities and services. Last time TheFundamentals checked most governments were monopolies and exercised darn near complete control over their citizens. Which of these unions do you want controlling your life? Your family? Your health care decisions? Your taxes? Your education?

Please support the efforts that are underway to limit the involvement of these unions in your life.  It is simply not enough to vote for individuals like the new governors of New Jersey, Wisconsin and Ohio and then leave them to fight the entrenched power of these unions on their own.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Corruption Cabal: Unions and the Democratic Party

Below are the six largest and most active unions in the public employee union movement. We give you their web page references and encourage you to study their statements, positions and learn about their leaders and agendas. The comments in quotations are from their web pages. These unions are behind the Democratic Party. They are the financiers of the Democratic Party. And they are going to use every possible means to thwart the efforts in state capitols to balance budgets and limit union control over state services and employees. They see public workers, here and abroad, as their lifeline to the future as well as their ongoing opportunity to capture the taxpayer’s resources.

Everything they do and will do is going to be couched in the language of protecting the worker and protecting the lofty dreams of the labor movement. The national media will not challenge their activities; they will glorify them. And even if they receive temporary setbacks in some specific states they will never cease to work to regain the ground they have lost while building on their strongholds in states such as Illinois, New York and California. They care little about private sector workers who are not aligned with them. If you work in the private sector and you fail to recognize the sheer force; the magnitude; the perseverance and the breadth of their power, you will regret it.

If you want to know why most government, education and health care services cost so much, please read on. These outfits are not in the business of efficiency and increased productivity. And, if you can see through their highfalutin rhetoric about public service and increased student achievement and every other PR slogan known to man, dig into their websites and see how much regard they have for workers in the private sector. Determine for yourself how much of their focus is about their agenda versus the public they supposedly serve. They are neither charities nor churches. Dedicated people work at charities and churches to improve the human condition in every possible way. Public union organizers and leaders are first and foremost dedicated to their selfish demands. A true public servant does not need a union to pursue their mission.  Frankly they would turn away from any such effort to advance union positions such as seniority and maximum benefits for reduced effort.  How many innovations come from public employee unions?  How many developing nations study public employee unions to learn productivity techniques?  Technology advancement?

The union people will not go away. Ever. Just to contain them requires constant determination and vigilance. It took decades to get to the unfair, costly and insulated double standard system we now must dismantle.  Please read on:

AFL – CIO http://www.aflcio.org/  “The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) is a voluntary federation of 57 national and international labor unions. The AFL-CIO was created in 1955 by the merger of the AFL and the CIO. The AFL-CIO union movement represents 12.2 million members, including 3.2 million members in Working America, its community affiliate. We are teachers and miners, firefighters and farm workers, bakers and engineers, pilots and public employees, doctors and nurses, painters and plumbers—and more. In 2009, delegates to the 26th AFL-CIO Constitutional Convention elected Richard Trumka as president and Liz Shuler as secretary-treasurer. Arlene Holt Baker was re-elected as executive vice president.”

NEA http://www.nea.org/  “NEA also believes every student in America, regardless of family income or place of residence, deserves a quality education. In pursuing its mission, NEA has determined that we will focus the energy and resources of our 3.2 million members on improving the quality of teaching, increasing student achievement and making schools safer, better places to learn.” And some more. “For those educators looking for a little inspiration in the good fight to protect pensions, a little navel-gazing might be in order. Check out what’s happening in the smack-dab center of the United States. Pension protection in Kansas started years ago, when troubles with state pensions first began to rumble in neighboring states. At that point, leaders from Kansas National Education Association (KNEA) sat down with their counterparts at the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) to build a joint strategy.“It started with good people sitting down together, looking at each other and making a pact, saying we’re not going to hurt each other,” said Terry Forsyth, KNEA political director. That simple promise grew into a formal non-profit organization, “Keeping the Kansas Promise,” which represents more than 280,000 Kansans with public pensions, including teachers, firefighters and police officers. It is also part of a larger coalition, called “Kansas United,” which includes at least 29 unions working collaboratively to protect retirement benefits.”

More tomorrow --

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Leadership Series: Public Servant

It appears that some Americans have lost the real meaning of the term “public servant.” Just in case you may have forgotten how a real public servant acts, here are a few examples:

Dr. Jonas Salk. Most everyone knows Dr. Salk or at least the disease that he eliminated – POLIO. Did you know that Dr. Salk did not make any money from his development of the vaccine to inoculate humans against polio? “When news of the vaccine's success was made public on April 12, 1955, Salk was hailed as a "miracle worker", and the day "almost became a national holiday." His sole focus had been to develop a safe and effective vaccine as rapidly as possible, with no interest in personal profit. When he was asked in a televised interview who owned the patent to the vaccine, Salk replied: "There is no patent. Could you patent the sun?" Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jonas_Salk

“No interest in personal profit.” Don’t just read on. Think about the character of the man who had no interest in personal profit, please. Could you patent the sun? Sure. We imagine there are some Wall Street types who, with their legal scholars, are working on that project right now.

Read this man’s biography at the above URL. If you wish to grasp the meaning of “public servant.”

Cicely Saunders. Ever heard of her? She died in 2005 at St. Christopher’s Hospice in England. Why is that location meaningful? She founded the place. As a matter of fact, she founded the entire hospice movement. What is a hospice you ask? It’s a place and a process that most all of us will need, usually late in our lives. Cicely Saunders was concerned about the well being of people who were approaching death. She focused much of her life on helping dying people deal with their pain and all aspects of the end of life. You can read about her at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cicely_Saunders

We snitched this quote from her BBC obituary, “Her belief that dying is a phenomenon "as natural as being born," was at the heart of a philosophy that sees death as a process that should be life-affirming and free of pain.” http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/4254255.stm

Here’s one more from a British newspaper that we would like to share, “One of the terminally ill patients she nursed was David Tasma, a Polish-Jewish refugee who, having escaped from the Warsaw ghetto, had worked as a waiter. She fell in love with him, and he left her his worldly wealth of £500 to be "a window in your home". That act, which helped germinate the idea that became St Christopher’s, is remembered by a plain sheet of glass in the entrance to the hospice.” http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/2005/jul/16/guardianobituaries.health

We are literally without words when we read these words.

Let’s get back to the US of A. Here’s one more: Clara Foltz. Ever heard of Clara? Clara was a Hoosier, actually a descendant of Daniel Boone. She introduced the simple but overwhelming concept of the “public defender.” Just think of that, in 1893, when Clara was dealing with a multitude of issues, there were no public defenders. She took this system on when the powers to be would not even let her be an attorney. She was the first female to be admitted to the bar in California. Oh, while doing all this, she raised five children. Her husband had split.

Here’s a quote from Foltz’s biography, “Foltz described herself thusly, "They call me a Lady Lawyer, a pretty sobriquet, for of course to be worthy of so dainty a title, I was bound to maintain a dainty manner, as I browbeat my way through the marshes of ignorance and prejudice." Source: http://www.firstladylawyer.com/about_clara.asp   Can you just take these few words and embrace the power of this woman? We encourage you to read about this woman and this lawyer. Not many people know about her but now you do.

Some of these folks are well known public servants. But we, at TheFundamentals, are drawn to a different type of public servant, none of whom are well known. These public servants are our neighbors, our family members, our friends. You know them all. They work hard. They raise and educate their children in difficult times. They help out when needed. Obey the law. Pay their taxes. Vote. Seldom seek an advantage over one another. But don’t care much for those who do. Much less those who do it in the name of public service.

If you want to call yourself a public servant, it is darn well time that you had better at least grasp an accurate definition. By the way, if you call yourself one; you’re not.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Fundamental of Fair Play

Why is there so much angst in America?

Why are our neighbors so upset about so many things?

Can the sources of the angst and upset be identified and resolved?

And then can we, as Americans with some sense of community, move forward?

And so we started our essay on the fundamental of fair play. Our attempt to get at the root cause of the divide in the land; the turmoil in state capitols; the disconnect between the forces of spend and save; taxpayer and public servant; progressive and conservative brought us to focus on this simple and very American concept of fair play. Americans know when someone is not playing by the rules. When someone is taking advantage. When someone thinks they are either better than or deserve more than their fair share. We’ve been thinking about this concept of fair play as the root cause of our angst and upset for some time and we read a pretty good article written by David Brooks. The article was entitled, Make Everybody Hurt which is one way of looking at “fair play.” Here is the link: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/22/opinion/22brooks.html?ref=davidbrooks   Brooks is a NYTimes writer/columnist and frequent TV person who is called upon by the mainstream media to represent the other side of the issue. By that we mean, the side they neither grasp nor support. David is pretty good at this challenge but again he does hang out with a strange group of characters.

And this is how far we got, writing the opening lines above, when we were distracted* and came upon this article in the NYTimes “Magazine” Section, written by Matt Bai, staff writer: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/27/magazine/27christie-t.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1&adxnnlx=1298718153-nFGjunU7R8yOdopCovpC7A  The article is entitled “How Chris Christie Did His Homework” which is a bit of clever play on words as you will discover after reading Mr. Bai’s very well written piece.

Now, are you beginning to see our dilemma? No. Okay. Bear with us for a moment.

One of our personal fundamentals is to not reinvent the wheel which simply means why do something that someone else has already done and most likely done better than we can. We, of course, find great wisdom in these fundamentals of ours. Others, perhaps our critics, the numbers of which appear to be growing with a geometric rise similar to our national debt, would just call it laziness.

Oh well.

Messrs. Brooks and Bai have nailed it in their work. By it, we mean “fair play.” We will someday, perhaps, finish our essay, begun above, on fair play. In the meantime, please read the two essays referenced above. We hope both give you a sense of what is going on and what should go on but also why we, at TheFundamentals, are very optimistic that yes, us angst and upset Americans will indeed get through this period; and, as a community, we will move forward.

Closing. Read Brooks last paragraph carefully. He says, “austerity.” Is that anything like sacrifice and frugality? Remember folks, that we at TheFundamentals have been talking “sacrifice and frugality” for years. Nice to see the NY boyz catching on/up!

* Focus is not our strong suit!