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

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Person of the Decade

The American Bureaucrat

Today we recognize the vast accumulations of bureaucrats around America.  There are tens of millions of them.  Actually we cannot even count how many because they don’t just work for government anymore; although that group alone measures over 22 million.  They work for private firms doing the governments business; they dominate education and health care doing the governments business.  Entire professions – accounting, law and academia are now populated with and dominated by bureaucrats.  They work for each other and they spew out more rules and more conflicting controls over the American people than can even be documented or measured.  Here are what folk over the years have had to say about them:

“Bureaucracy is the death of all sound work.”  Albert Einstein.  We start our famous people quotes about bureaucracy and bureaucrats with Einstein for two reasons: one, he was a bureaucrat (briefly) and; two, even our freedom and bureaucracy loving (that by the way is an example of an oxymoron) liberal friends haven’t disrespected Einstein yet.

“Bureaucracy is a giant mechanism operated by pygmies.”  Honore de Balzac.  We doubt that Honore meant to disparage small people in this observations.  If so we apologize to our readers for a serious political correctness mistake on our part.  But we include Honore because he may be the only Frenchman in history who didn’t like bureaucracy and bureaucrats.

“Religion, to me, is a bureaucracy between man and God that I don’t need.  Bill Maher.  We threw this one in for two reasons also – one, our many liberal readers love this unattractive guy and; two, it is an indirect observation from one more liberal fool knocking bureaucracies.  TheFundamentals asks, "Why do they support them if they can’t stand them?"

“The only thing that saves us from the bureaucracy is its inefficiency.”  Eugene McCarthy – liberal from the 60’s and 70’s.  Cripes, Gene couldn’t even get this right.   “The only thing that saves us from bureaucracy is no bureaucracy!” -   TheFundamentals, December 2011.

We close with this view of bureaucracy:

Even the government bureaucracy (BLS) says they seldom go away!  We ask this one question?  Do bureaucrats believe in reincarnation?  Because if they don’t, what kind of person would choose to waste their only life being a bureaucrat?  This question may be the most important question ever raised in any blog or essay during the first decade of the 21st century.  Think about it, what motivates people to waste their only life telling others what to do instead of getting about the business of doing something with their life?  Is this the flaw in human evolution that will result in our ultimate demise?

Sunday, December 25, 2011

A Savior Has Been Born For You...

 And it happened in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, so that the whole world would be enrolled.
This was the first enrollment; it was made by the ruler of Syria, Quirinius.

And all went to be declared, each one to his own city.

Then Joseph also ascended from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, in order to be declared, with Mary his espoused wife, who was with child.

Then it happened that, while they were there, the days were completed, so that she would give birth.

And she brought forth her firstborn son. And she wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them at the inn.

And there were shepherds in the same region, being vigilant and keeping watch in the night over their flock.

And behold, an Angel of the Lord stood near them, and the brightness of God shone around them, and they were struck with a great fear.

And the Angel said to them: “Do not be afraid. For, behold, I proclaim to you a great joy, which will be for all the people.  For today a Saviour has been born for you in the city of David: he is Christ the Lord.  And this will be a sign for you: you will find the infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.”

And suddenly there was with the Angel a multitude of the celestial army, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men of good will.”

And it happened that, when the Angels had departed from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us cross over to Bethlehem and see this word, which has happened, which the Lord has revealed to us.”

And they went quickly. And they found Mary and Joseph; and the infant was lying in a manger.

Then, upon seeing this, they understood the word that had been spoken to them about this boy.

And all who heard it were amazed by this, and by those things which were told to them by the shepherds.

But Mary kept all these words, pondering them in her heart.

The Gospel of Luke

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Is John McCain Nuts?

"Mr. McCain was captured and they kept him not just in prison, but in a pit for several years.  Anyone (in his place) would go nuts," Putin said, according to the Associated Press.

Let’s look at the facts which include the record as carefully presented below.

Education record of John McCain (JM):
1.     Graduated from high school – 1954
2.     Graduated from US Naval Academy – 1958  

Employment record of JM:
1.    Fighter pilot 1960 - 67; crashed a couple of planes and then was shot down
2.    Prisoner of war 1967 -1973 seemingly did okay in this position in that he survived
3.    Private work experience since 1974 – zero
4.    Public employment experience since 1982 – US house of rep and senate
5.    Presidential candidate in 2008 – lost
No evidence of nutso behavior but also little evidence of real accomplishment
JM's Personal life:
1.    Marriages – two (30+ years in current marriage)
2.    Children – seven
      3.    Divorces – one
4.    Religious beliefs if any – Christian
5.    Personal philosophy – based on voting record as a politician seems to support lots of government over individual rights
No evidence of nutso behavior but also little evidence of any strong belief system
JM's Political life:
1.    Seems to like public employment and seems to buy into the self glorifying aspect of the inner circle in Washington DC
2.    Loves to show up on Sunday morning interview shows
3.    Loves to travel everywhere he can go on the taxpayers dime
4.    Loves private travel arrangements over public alternatives
5.    No real balanced budget or limits on government programs or spending
6.    Lots of votes to support government involvement and government spending
7.    Seems to be the darling of the military/industrial complex
No evidence of nutso behavior; just lots of government crap
JM's Retirement prospects:
1.    None
2.    Apparent heroes in that regard:  Paterno (JoPa), Buffett (Oracle of Omaha) and Queen Elizabeth II (Pippa Middleton’s sister’s grandmother in law) 

Life after politics: no apparent plans 

Summary:  Vlad Putin says McCain is nuts.  Based on our analysis presented above JM cannot be presumed to be nuts.  But, at TheFundamentals, we believe in time tested beliefs such as “takes one to know one.”

Conclusion:  Vlad probably is nuts.  So, Vlad is probably right about McCain.  By the way, JM looks a little nuts in the following picture:

Coming soon: Is Bill Clinton nuts?  BTW, we think Newt may be nuts.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Empire Cuts Back

It is common knowledge that the European countries which are facing the consequences of decades of fiscal promiscuity are politically addicted to:
·         excessive deficit government spending
·         very high portion of their GDP sourced to government activities
·         high public employment as a percent of overall employed workforce
·         a direct tie in between a labor/liberal or socialist leaning political party and public employee unions
·         numerous rules and laws which promote and benefit said corrupt tie in, and
·         public employment wages/benefits/pension plans well in excess of those in the private sector

The situation is similar to the American scenario of Democrats and their undying allegiance to certain union constituencies – teachers, educators, health care workers, police and all sorts of bureaucrats.  This corrupt alliance, in total disregard to the well being of American taxpayers, between the American Democrat political party and the SEIU, AFSCME, NEA, AFT and AFL-CIO is America’s inconvenient truth.  It produces the debt disaster that now threatens America’s strong world economic standing.

One hundred years ago, the strong world economic presence was England.  Britain dominated global politics – diplomatic and military politics and it was the original 24/7 global commercial/industrial enterprise.  Worldwide.  Long before McDonalds spread across the globe; or Boeing; or Siemens; or Royal Dutch Shell; or Coca-Cola; or soccer. The sun never set on the British Empire.

So what went wrong?  Well, you know.  Some upstarts came along.  The natives got restless.  America built its own empire and a few wars redistributed some balance of power positions.  In a few words, times changed.  But there was one other notable feature accompanying all these other changes that is seldom, if ever, addressed.

The British built a massive bureaucracy designed to do whatever the politicians deemed necessary to oversee and manage the global reach of their 24/7 empire.  We don’t know why it must be this way but it is.  Whenever five or more of us gather and think we’ve got a better idea; a new handle on the way things are; a different view of how things are going to be or should be, we immediately set up a committee and appoint a friendly face to hire some more people and accumulate rules and tell others what they can and cannot do.  This is in our DNA; it may be one of those things that cannot be changed except by someone with great perseverance, great outlook and spectacular wisdom.  Few of us are so endowed.  It is just a lot easier to build a bureaucracy than stay personally involved when things become a bit complicated.  One last observation about this inexplicable need of humans – this need to build bureaucracies.  It may be nature’s way.    Obviously nature has one key action plan to bring about change.  It’s called death. It may just be that nature balances this natural occurrence – death, with the very unnatural occurrence – bureaucracy building, because it is seemingly impossible to kill off a bureaucracy once established.  But, guess who is taking on the task?

The very same folk who built a massive bureaucracy many decades ago – the British Empire.

Britain has two dominants political parties and a couple of minor ones (by the way, if you are into prognostication, any study of this British disparate political party situation will provide at least some food for thought for a glance into the future of American politics) and the voters tossed out the party with the ties to the bureaucracy (Labor) and their unions and they almost had the spine to fully elect a group that had the vision and the commitment and the perseverance to take on the bureaucracy.  Almost because who knows what will happen given that the new guys did not quite get a majority and they had to align with one of the minor parties to form a coalition to govern and the minor party doesn’t have the same level of commitment to the bureaucracy destroying mission underway.

In two years, less time than the hope and change guy has been in power in the US of A, this coalition has taken the direct government employment (call them bureaucrats) in Britain from 6,353,000 in September 2009 down to 5,987,000 in September 2011.  Rather remarkable.  During the same period, the private sector employment rose from 22,539,000 to 23,120,000.   (Source:  www.ons.gov.uk )  Rather remarkable considering the overall economic situation in Britain, Europe and the US.   The Labor party in Britain, the guys who got tossed out a couple of years ago, are whining, wailing, weeping and generally acting like children while the adults are trying to rebuild a stronger base for future growth.  Pretty?   Of course not.  Anyone really happy about the situation?  Of course not.  But it’s called taking your medicine and, yes, it can be done.

But don’t expect it to come from those who repeat the nonsense of the past and cover it up with words like hope and change.  Hope has nothing to do with it and change requires discipline and discipline requires some small portion of sacrifice and frugality.

America appears to be where Britain was some decades ago – lacking in discipline and committed to building bureaucracies rather than the hard work of responsible management.  The other European countries – Spain, Portugal, France, Italy, and Greece have simply said they would rather wallow in their accumulated waste than cleanse out the bowels of their bloated bureaucracies.  We say bully for David Cameron and his conservative party in Britain for giving it a go. 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Tim Tebow for President

Okay, we admit, we titled this piece with Mr. Tebow’s name prominently displayed just to get your attention and hopefully a few minutes of your time to read on.  Yes, mea culpa, we abused your trust but we hope you will detect that it was all in a good cause.

Our webpage, www.thefundamentals.us, is brought to you free of charge, free of any commercial messages and, in our opinion, worth every penny it costs you.  In addition to our well researched and carefully edited essays and opinion pieces, we bring you a virtual electronic library of carefully chosen links to valuable writings, videos and creative works done by others.  If you have not ever visited the right side of this page and scrolled down a bit, you will have missed out on a series of links under the caption -
Worth Reading/Viewing.  We direct you there now.  If you scroll down a ways, not quite to the end of this section, you will arrive at a caption with these words – Michigan v Florida – Best Bowl Game Ever.  Or, for the sake of time reduction just click on here: 

And take note of the quarterback for the Florida team that almost gained a victory that warm day in early January 2008 over the mighty Michigan Wolverines, the champions of the west.   Key word – almost.  Well we’d better restate that complete observation.  The Florida Gators were favored by 10.5 points.  Michigan was not rated given its 8-4 record.  The Gators were ranked 12th in the country.  Few expected the gutsy Michigan performance for their retiring coach that day.

The Gators quarterback is Tim Tebow.  We think he learned a lot that day four years ago and we would like you to know about this young man who has captured the joy and spirit of a nation which loves come from behind winners.   Tebow worked until the final seconds of that 2008 game and, as you all know, came back the next year to lead the Florida gators to a national championship.

We watched him do his magic in the waning moments of the fourth quarter last Sunday against the Chicago Bears.  His team was trailing 10-0.  His team got the ball and the Bears went in a prevent defense in effect giving Tebow a 15-20 yard free zone for pass completions.  He took advantage and the score was 10-7 but the Denver team he leads had used up their time outs and the Bears had the ball with only two minutes remaining.  All they had to do was call run plays up the middle and hold on to the ball.  The called a sweep and the runner went out of bounds; clock stops.  Then they had to kick and the Denver team moved the ball but not all that far so they called in their place kicker who booted an almost 60 yard field goal – score 10-10.  Overtime.

The Bears win the toss in sudden death and move the ball to within range of their field goal kicker but they keep trying for more yardage.  Meanwhile you know the Denver team wants the ball; anyway they can get it.  The runner goes up the middle and the defense strips the ball.  Denver now has a chance and Tebow moves him team but the drive is slogged down.  So they call in their kicker for a field goal a bit shorter than the last one.  He nails it.  Final score 13-10.  Denver wins.

Tebow did his job with a lot of help from his teammates and a no small amount of help from the Chicago coaching decisions.  He is interviewed after the game and says what he always says, “I would like to thank my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.”  The interviewer asks about the game.  Tebow gives credit to his teammates and then utters a wonderful line that speaks volumes about his character – “these guys make me look a lot better than I am.”  At the end of the interview Tim Tebow says, “God bless you” to the interviewer.

Here’s a bit of background information which we snitched from Wikipedia:

“Tebow came into national prominence as a junior at Florida's 4A Nease High School. He kept Nease competitive in an interstate game against perennial 6A powerhouse Hoover High School of Alabama, nearly pulling off the upset. Tebow was soon known not only for his running and throwing, but for his intense competitiveness and uncommon physical courage. Later that same year he suffered an injury to his right leg late in the first half of a game. Originally thought by the Nease coaching staff to be a bad cramp, he played the entire second half with a broken fibula, at one point rushing for a 29-yard touchdown.”

“Tebow spent the three summers prior to enrolling at the University of Florida in the Philippines, assisting with his father's orphanage and missionary work.”

Tebow is left handed.  Oh well, he can’t be perfect!!

So, do we want him to run for president?  Of course not.  He can’t anyway.  He’s only 24 years old.  He has to wait ten years or so.  But someone may want to ask his Mom or Dad because they must be some pretty special people.  In the meantime, we want Tim to keep running for the end zone and when he is not doing that we want him to pass the ball and when he is not doing either, we just want him to be himself.

God bless you, Tim Tebow.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Party of NO? Wish It Were So.

As we all know after listening to our president smile his way through another incredibly weak interview with the White House press room bureaucrats known as "60 Minutes,"  Mr. Obama would have solved all of the problems he inherited if only it were not for those nasty, un compromising recalcitrant obstacles known as republicans.  He, of course, had little to say about the mess promiscuous spending and welfare state mentality has brought to Italy and Greece or any of the many bankrupt countries around the globe.  He, of course, did not mention the bankrupt states in our own homeland - California, New York, Illinois, New Jersey and Rhode Island.  His vision and smiling attitude toward any problem is indicative of either someone who cannot process fact and consequence or, perhaps, just simple delusion overwhelms anyone beset with so many bad ideas with predictably bad outcomes.

We have heard, studied and analyzed all the arguments for deficit spending and Keynesian nonsense designed to get us through this period of adjustment.  It is not a period of adjustment.  It is not a passing economic phenomenon that will go away to be ultimately replaced with more economic growth and jobs creation and increased wealth for all.  Those days are gone; long gone.

America is a financial house of cards.  Built and inflated by so many federal government involvements and subsidies and bureaucracies and employees and programs that one can no longer catalog much less focus on a series of carefully designed steps to correct the situation.  In the past, before the debt deluge of the last 11 years, carefully planned reversals, shutdowns and cutbacks of certain activities and programs would have served the economy and the financial strength of America well.  It is no longer the case.

The 2008 election kicked out a fiscally and financially irresponsible group of elected officials and replaced them with the only available alternative – a group of even more irresponsible officials who long awaited their moment of opportunity.  And they seized it.  Every component of their ambitious plans were funded and exaggerated to the maximum.  These efforts were facilitated by an extensive program of fear, threats and terror all supported without any analysis or objection by an embedded media that neither has the training or the spine to educate and inform in an intelligent and objective manner. 

So the last best hope came in 2010 and the people, knowing full well that the path we were on was one of devastation and destruction, actually turned back to the party that they had only two years earlier rejected.   They gave them a mandate in the form of a large majority in the House of Representatives.  The very one place where the people can make their voice heard every two years.  The very one place that is constitutionally empowered to control the purse strings – the budget and the spending bills.  They gave the newly elected officials the mandate to put an end to the nonsense.  Rein in the spending; reduce the deficits and stop adding to the debt.  That was the mandate.  It was not about social issues or cultural considerations.  It was not focused on who you could or could not marry or serve in the military or what type of health insurance policy you could or must buy or how many thousands of bureaucrats could massage your privates before boarding a plane or listen to your phone conversations and read your emails.  The people were smart enough to know that if your curtail the spending; live within your means; demand sacrifice from all and a bit more from those who either did well or just rode the gravy train during the buildup period, that gradually balance and correction would occur.   Not overnight.  But the message would go out and responsibility would return.

They knew that the 2008 winners would never impose limits on themselves.  They would not discipline themselves because they were the fortuitous beneficiaries of the irresponsibility of the breakdown of fundamentals by the other party.  The 2008 winners were going to seize the moment big time.  Never miss out on the opportunities afforded you by a crisis one of their fools said.  Carpe Diem.

So the people asked the other guys to just say no.  Bring back some balance.  Some common sense.  Make the initial corrections.

November 4, 2010 the debt of the United States was - $13.7 trillion.

Yesterday, the debt of the United States was - $15.1 trillion.

Yes, folks, that is right.  Since the people asked the republicans to stop the spending; reduce the deficits; stop adding to the debt; just a little over one year ago, the debt has risen by $1.4 trillion.  How’s that for a responsive representative democracy at work?

What is left for the people to do when they empower a group with the mandate to stop the nonsense and the group empowered does exactly the opposite?  Who do the people turn to?  What choices are left?  The country is being destroyed by both parties and we only have two choices.  What would you do?  The party with most of the power will continue their promiscuous ways until the entire country collapses.  The party with the ability to stop them even though they have limited power lacks the leadership and the communication skills to take even minimal corrective action.  And now we again enter a period of listening to candidates talk about what they would do knowing full well that the people have already given their party the ability to stop things and they won’t do it.  All the while the spending goes on and on.

You are witnessing the destruction of your country while the elected officials and their millions of hired bureaucrats prosper.  You are witnessing the direct outcome of a failed system of governance – one that sounded so good in theory but lacks the defined limits of fiscal and financial responsibility; the harsh but always needed steps of personal accountability by anyone accessing the public treasury and the century’s old lessons of the always predictable result of combining human weakness with a lack of discipline.

$1.4 trillion of new debt in thirteen months.  The party of no?  You've got to be kidding. 

Friday, December 9, 2011

The Bureaucracy Eats One of Their Own

What a glorious day to be a federal bureaucrat. Standing in front of microphones; speaking to a gathered throng of anxious media personnel all salivating for your every word. Bright eyed and bushy tailed, well dressed, well coiffed; and oh so glad to be a part of this magnificent moment. This culmination of tens of thousands of hours of dedicated work to the public; countless meetings and dinners and important gatherings doing the people’s business – ferreting out one of your own; one who violated the high standards and impeccable ethics of bureaucratic activity. One who violated the standards of “to serve and protect.” To work tirelessly for the common good. To never place one’s own advancement or one’s own position ahead of the larger community.

So, Pat Fitzgerald stood there with his aides de camp behind him; the cameras running; the practiced determination of his presentation; his firm jowls; his glancing eyes showing unbridled commitment to getting his man. They got the bad guy. He’s going down. This will show the scumbags what happens when you abuse the public’s trust.

The set was structured to show the overwhelming power of his office. Plaques displaying all the federal bureaucracies that are ready to go after the miscreants who violate this trust that are the very foundation of our democracy. It doesn’t matter the cost; it doesn’t matter how many agents must be mustered; it doesn’t matter how many times we have to try you or what we can collect; it doesn’t matter if we fail once or even twice because we will get you and we will convict you and we will send you up the river.

The plaques say FBI and ATF and Postal investigations or some such thing and IRS investigations and Department of Labor and on and on and on. The bureaucracies are numerous and they all focused on this one man enriching himself at the expense of the fine citizens of Illinois. The bureaucrats got their man. Here are a few quotes from the press release issued by Pat yesterday:

“Blagojevich betrayed the trust and faith that Illinois voters placed in him, feeding great public frustration, cynicism and disengagement among citizens,” said Patrick J. Fitzgerald, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois.

“The sentence handed down today represents a repayment of the debt that Blagojevich owes to the people of Illinois,” said Robert D. Grant, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

“The United States Postal Inspection Service is proud to be one of the federal law enforcement agencies to help ferret out this type of political corruption in Illinois,” said Thomas P. Brady, Inspector-in-Charge of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service in Chicago.

Alvin Patton, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division in Chicago, said: “Today’s sentence sends a loud message that public corruption will not be tolerated.”

James Vanderberg, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Regional Office of the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General, said: “This sentence sends a clear message that public officials cannot engage in corruption for personal benefit in exchange for political favors.”

So at least five big shot bureaucrats got their names on the release. You can read the entire bragging rights release at http://www.justice.gov/usao/iln/pr/chicago/2011/pr1207_01.pdf  Bureaucrats sure do love their gloating moments.

Blagojevich was fined $20,000 to pay for all his ill gotten gains and the costs of pursuing him. He is selling his home because he can’t afford it. He says he is penniless. His family will seek financial support elsewhere because dad is going to get free room and board from the taxpayers. We don’t know how much the taxpayers are paying for the hundreds of bureaucrats who went after Blagojevich. We guess that it could run into the millions of dollars. We also note that the debt of our country is rising rapidly in no small part because we are forced to finance a lot of federal bureaucrats.

Pat first had Blagojevich arrested on December 9, 2008. In case you’re wondering, the US debt on that date was $10.7 trillion. On December 7, 2011, they nailed him with a $20,000.00 fine and 14 years free room and board. In case you’re wondering, US debt had risen to $15.1 trillion. Debt? Not Pat’s concern. It has risen by $4.4 trillion. Pat doesn't mess with the big stuff.  

So the question this essay poses to you, our valuable readers, is this, “What is the biggest threat to the people of Illinois and, for that matter, the people of the United States? Our answer is simple, "It's debt." (See the comment at the top of the page from America's recently retired top military man.) What is America's biggest threat?  Rod Blagojevich and his shenanigans that have cost you a lot to indict, arrest, try and convict compared to the pennies of Rod’s personal gain or the skyrocketing debt of the United States? Is it legal to accumulate debt when you have no plans or ability to repay it? What would Pat do if a business or a person accumulated debt with no ability to repay? Does it make sense that politicians and bureaucrats can build massive debt, pay themselves large salaries and even more generous pensions and just pass the bill on to the taxpayers?  Why isn't Pat focused on this larger issue?  This more important issue?

Pat and his endless supply of well paid bureaucrats are way off the mark with their priorities. But apparently there is no law against building debt you can't repay and we doubt many bureaucrats would support one. We all need to spend a few minutes with Admiral Mullen.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Road More Traveled

Robert Frost:  The Road Not Taken (1915)

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth.

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same.

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
What comes from studying oneself?  Ones neighbors?  Ones community?  Ones country?
Well, if you do it on the side of a mountain without word processing software and an internet connection, you get one heck of an education.  But it you spend a few bucks on the software and the hookup; not only do you get the education but you get a big ole megaphone and the chance to have at it.
And each step of the way, as you learn; as you observe, the one thing that is certain is that you find there is always one more step; the next issue; the next question to be delved into, researched, and analyzed.  You begin to think it is an endless process.  This learning and seeking and questioning.
So, it makes sense to sit back occasionally and ask these questions, “Just what the heck is happening?”  “What the heck is going on?”
Something happened about fifty years ago.  We were witness to it.  Literally observed it first hand; in person. 
In the fall of 1960 we joined a bunch of other young people and hung out on State St. in Ann Arbor, Michigan late one evening awaiting the arrival of a young presidential candidate who seemed to be quite a bit different from the older wise man retiring in a few months.  The candidate arrived, made a few comments, cracked a joke about being at the Harvard of the Midwest and then spoke about young people making a difference in what was to become the Peace Corps.  (See:  http://www.peacecorps.gov/index.cfm?shell=resources.media.press.view&news_id=1490 )  We remember vividly when the young man took office and said simply “…ask not what you country can do for you but what you can do for your country.”  Three years later, in the same town, while running an errand, we were stopped cold in our tracks when we heard someone say, “The president has been shot.”
The following year, in May we attended graduation ceremonies and listened to the young man’s replacement speak about a great society and a war on poverty.  All being led by government based action.  Run by politicians and bureaucrats.  An old fool from Texas who had been in politics all his life cutting deals and self enriching; following a young man who spoke about doing and not expecting something to be done for you. 
Here are a couple of sentences from that May 1964 speech:
“But I do promise this: We are going to assemble the best thought and the broadest knowledge from all over the world to find those answers for America. I intend to establish working groups to prepare a series of White House conferences and meetings -- on the cities, on natural beauty, on the quality of education, and on other emerging challenges. And from these meetings and from this inspiration and from these studies we will begin to set our course toward the Great Society.

The solution to these problems does not rest on a massive program in Washington, nor can it rely solely on the strained resources of local authority. They require us to create new concepts of cooperation, a creative federalism, between the National Capital and the leaders of local communities.”

Source:  http://www.h-net.org/~hst306/documents/great.html

Quite a contrast.

We think at or about that time, in that period of grief and turmoil and upset, we citizens may have taken the road to expectation and promise and turned away from the road of responsibility and action and discipline.  We turned away from leadership that didn’t make promises but led by demanding responsibility and discipline.  We chose politicians pandering with hopes and promises.   We didn’t recall first hand Mr. Kennedy’s closing comments that October night in 1960  but we have reread them.  Here is what he said, “…this University is not maintained by its alumni, or by the state, merely to help its graduates have an economic advantage in the life struggle.  There is certainly a greater purpose….”
We may be wrong about this series of events and this period of change.  But we go back to the simplicity of the message from one man, “Ask not what your country can do for you; but what you can do for your country.”  This message of self responsibility which is all based on discipline and limits. And the message from the successor – we can make a great society.  We can fight poverty.  We can legislate a great society and outlaw being poor.  We will start in Washington and set the path from here and then take it to our communities.  This man led his nation into a swamp of war, death, entitlements and expectations.  Thankfully he retired soon thereafter, in disgrace.  However, the damage was done.
There is no road that leads to an improved person or community or country that is not built on the foundation of limits and discipline and self responsibility.   It is the road less traveled.  At a time of breakdown, we took the road that sounded good; appealed to a shocked nation; uttered by a man who did little based on discipline and limits and self control.

We have followed this most traveled road for fifty years into a swamp of expectation and entitlement and now we are desperately bogged down with no apparent means of turning back.

We simply took the wrong path.

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Great Pretender

 As we have infrequently pointed out, most everything we learned we learned by the age of seventeen through the lyrics of the wisdom of the music of the day.  Well, okay, with a little help from Mom and Dad and the family and the weird neighbors and the rest of the “community” with which we had encounters and discoveries.  Which brings us to today’s topic.

What a remarkable contrast.  A community organizer and a businessman.
One embraces self improvement through work and accomplishment.
One seeks improvement through the work and accomplishment of others.
One attends local schools and an all black college.
One attends private schools and the pinnacle University of the Eastern Progressive Movement.
One creates jobs. 
One chides others to create jobs and so heavily burdens the process that the opposite occurs.
One reads speeches written by others from a mechanical device.
One speaks from his heart; his mind; his gut.
One makes many mistakes which are overlooked.
One makes a few mistakes which are over blown.
One writes a book of meandering thought and is claimed a genius.
One writes a book chronicling hard work and basic beliefs and is called an opportunist.

One serves as an apprentice to the most corrupt set of politicians in the country.

The other seizes his playful opportunities with flirtatious antics in the private sector.
One pits one class/group/segment of American against another group/segment.
One says it’s time to lighten up a bit.  (Aside: Which one would you rather have a beer with?)
One signs legislation containing thousands of unread/ununderstood legalese.
One says the road to recovery is as simple as nine (9)/nine (9)/nine (9).
One has no list of accomplishments but receives global awards and recognitions.
One has tended to every basic responsibility in life and, like the rest of us, discovers that some good deeds do go unheralded.
One displaced the assumed to be standard bearer of the largest political party in the country.
One is closing in on displacing the assumed to be standard bearer of the second largest political party in the country. (Yes, we know, it is way too early to even suggest this outcome but we’re having a hard time embracing the pretty boy at the top or the chunky fellow who has been around just a tad too long.)

One thinks everyone should pay at least something to fund the public purse.
One thinks many should pay nothing but be major recipients of the public purse.

What is wrong with those who conclude that the one is better than the other?  What set of measurement standards could possibly conclude that one deserves the job and the other is a pretender?  Of the several contrasts described above we are left pondering these questions: 
Which one deserves the job?
Which one earned the job?
Which one is the pretender?
So, what to make of all this?  Well, here’s what we make of it.  Back to our youth when the lessons were fundamental.  Listen to this wonderful song by clicking on

We humbly suggest that one of the candidates adopt this song for his coming reelection campaign.

In the meantime, Herman can take some comfort from the lyrics of this old favorite: