Thomas Paine America’s First Blogger Returns!

Thomas Paine Writings

In February of 1776 a young man full of passion and ideas writes his first pamphlet (i.e., blog) called Common Sense. His is a direct challenge on British authority and a call for a new nation born in the concepts of freedom, equality, and independence.

At the time, there is a great debate among the general population in the colonies as to what the proper course of action should be. Many feel that a total separation from England – the greatest power on the face of the earth at the time – is not wise, prudent, or even possible.
Thomas Paine’s Common Sense becomes the rallying cry for independence. It is around his words and ideas that the colonies find their resolve and brings the rag-tag army to New York to face down the mighty British armada.

The summer and fall of 1776 do not go well for the new American army. By early winter they are in full retreat across New Jersey. With hundreds killed and thousands captured, George Washington has lost nearly half of his army. What’s more, morale has sunk into desperation and belief in the cause of American independence is in serious jeopardy.

Thomas Paine, traveling with the army as the first “war correspondent” sees first hand that this great ideal of freedom and self-government is but a breath away from being crushed beneath not only a superior army, but, more importantly, by the dejected spirit of those that must fight against it.

Paine then pens the words that begin, “These are the times that try men’s souls”. Finishing his first essay of his pamphlet (i.e., blog) The Crisis in December of 1776, he rushes back to Philadelphia to set type and print as fast as he can.

Paine perseveres; using the technology available to him at the time, he is able to get this first essay distributed and into the hands of the freezing, hungry, and dejected men camped on the banks of the Delaware River.

Washington knew that his next move must be a bold one. One that will mean either the death of the Revolution or one that will breathe life into the continuing struggle. As his own words portray: “Victory or Death”.

But what carries the day is the spirit and resolve of the men, a belief in what they are doing; A sense of history unfolding before their eyes, of which they are a part.

Thomas Paine’s words have no small part in awakening that spirit in the nearly defeated American army. He is a man whose weapon of choice is well-hewn words forged in the fire of ideas.

As much as any musket, his words help create a new nation. …and they will AGAIN!

Will you join me?

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Foolish America: Feeding our Enemies

Did you know that America’s military support for Tawain (vs. China) protects Islands and territories that are as close as 1.2 miles from Mainland China? (Kinmen, Wuciou and Matsu) Why?

Meanwhile: Last year we paid China over $132 billion in trade they bought about $32 billion of our stuff for a net trade deficit of $100 billion a year. Aren’t we feeding a likely enemy?

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The American Crisis: How can a country that doesn’t make bullets be safe?

Did you know that in a technology driven economy and military semiconductors are the “bullets” you fight an enemy with?

But the number of semiconductor bullets we manufacture in the United States continues to decline in relation to our needs.  In 2015, we imported  over $42 billion worth of semiconductors.

• Semiconductors U.S. imports 2002 2015 Statistic

In the eyes of a short sighted globalist the United States is not a desirable place to build a new semiconductor wafer fabrication (fab) plant. Such plants are massive, costing upwards of $8 billion and generating thousands of direct and indirect high-paying jobs, spinoff revenue for local communities and massive investments in research, equipment and materials.

Semiconductors sit at the top of the electronics industry pyramid. The United States invented the technology, but it’s become a small player as measured by global production.

In 2009, 16 fabs began construction throughout the world. One of them was in the United States, according to Daniel Tracy, senior director of industry research and statistics at Semiconductor Equipment Materials International. Seven of the fabs that began construction will produce light-emitting diodes, one of the most promising energy-saving technologies developed in 50 years. None of those fabs will be in the United States.

The only semiconductor fabrication plant that started construction last year in the United States is in Saratoga County, N.Y., a Global Foundries facility that will produce 40,000, 300-mm wafers per month (at 28 nanometers and below).

China led the world last year in new semiconductor factory construction, with six fabs, followed by Taiwan with five, and Korea, Japan, the European Union and Southeast Asia, all with one apiece.

As of 2009, the percentage of global semiconductor production capacity located in the United States was 14 percent, down from 25 percent in 2005 and 17 percent in 2007. Japan has the highest share of global capacity (at 25 percent), followed by Taiwan (18 percent, up from 11 percent in 2001), Korea (17 percent, up from 11 percent in 2001), Europe and the Middle East (11 percent), China (9 percent, up from 2 percent in 2001) and Southeast Asia (6 percent).

The United States does lead the world in one category, however: closures. In 2009, 27 fabs closed worldwide, with 15 of them in the United States (followed by four in Europe, four in Japan, two in China, one in Korea and one in Southeast Asia).

The number of closures last year almost doubled from the previous year, when 15 fabs were shut down worldwide, again, with the largest number in the United States (at four).

Our Eyes in the Sky are Owned by China

American dependence on China grows by the day. The latest news is that the United States has been reduced to leasing a Chinese satellite to handle communications with U.S. military bases in Africa. Surprising, isn’t it?

The nation that launched the world’s first communications satellite (I remember it well – it was called Telstar) has so lost its manufacturing mojo that it has to rely on its most formidable military adversary to provide the hardware for some of its most sensitive communications. This at a time when underlying unemployment rates among U.S. manufacturing workers remain at near-depression levels.

For those who have been keeping score, this is all part of an epochal pattern in which the manufacturing capabilities of even such ostensibly strong American companies as Apple AAPL and Boeing BA have become deeply hollowed out (with dire long-term implications not only for the companies concerned but for American living standards).

For more than half a century now, virtually every competent nation in the world has been extracting vital production technologies out of the United States. The American establishment’s attitude – lubricated by campaign contributions, consultancy fees, university chair endowments, think-tank subventions, and speakers’ honoraria – has been, “Come and get it.”

China has been a latecomer to the party but has been making up for lost time. First it offered itself as a low-wage location for labor-intensive manufacturing. Then it began to squeeze corporate America to transfer ever more advanced production processes and know how.




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What the Boston Tea Party was really about?

It was the beginning of the ever present struggle between big elite corporate power vs. the interests of small colonial entrepreneurs.

As Gordon Wood, the great historian of the American Revolution remarked recently the original Tea Party was a rebellion not just against a tax but against government favoritism for a global corporation that it considered too big to fail.

With 17 million pounds of unsold tea languishing in the East India Company’s warehouses as other merchants’ teas glutted the market, there were rumors that the British government might even revoke the company’s charter and take over its management.

Instead, Parliament granted the company an exclusive license to sell tea; removed all duties; forfeited an annual payment the company had made to the government; and advanced a large loan.

Special perks and deals for big business friends while screwing the small business person… sound familiar?

In 1773, though, all these favors actually lowered the price of tea, underselling as well as excluding Dutch tea smugglers and American tea merchants. No wonder that “Poor Lord” North [King George III’s prime minister] thought he was doing the colonists a favor” by saving the company from bankruptcy and giving it a monopoly in America, as Wood explains.

A modest tea tax remained, offending colonists’ stand against taxation without representation. But Wood — crediting Benjamin Woods Labaree, the authority on the Boston Tea Party — notes that “Giving the monopoly was probably more important in arousing the anger of many small New England merchants than the tea tax.”

Moreover, the few locals who were licensed to carry the company’s tea included relatives of Massachusetts’ royal governor, Thomas Hutchinson, who ordered ships not to accommodate populist pressure by leaving the harbor without first unloading their tea.

“Samuel Adams and his radicals were looking for an issue to exploit,” Wood notes, and Hutchinson’s nepotism gave them and local merchants the hot button they needed to turn out the men who actually stormed the ships and dumped the tea.

Today, we need to be mindful of the corrupt co-conspirators bedfellow of the mega-company and entrenched political power. That’s what revolutions are made of…

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The Gift of Storytelling

georgehorseHave you ever wondered what it would be like to ride along with a famous person like George Washington in real time and experience events as they really happened?

Confession: I am a history nut and genealogy freak. When I learned that Elizabeth French Dulany (maiden name Elizabeth French) gave Washington his “Blueskin” horse I wondered what it would be like to ride along too.

Wouldn’t it be endlessly thrilling and enriching?

The longer I studied the notion of piggy backing with GW, the more I thought it wouldn’t be so much fun after all. If you are looking for a thrill a minute; like an amusement ride, riding along with George Washington would likely be a huge disappointment. Please, take no offense George, it not you or the horses fault. I just like the story better.

In real time, sure you would see glimpses of Washington’s greatness but you are just as likely to see some of his weaknesses and humanness. It’s my belief that most of the time he wouldn’t seem much different than you or I. Sorry to burst you bubble but it’s true.

Only through the greatness of storytelling is his life riveting. Story telling takes out all of the mundane, unflattering and negative things, things that happen in everyone’s life.

Not convinced? Ask yourself these questions:

• How long would you watch him in adoration; chop wood in his childhood?
• What would you think of him when he displayed self-doubt and pessimism in the middle of the Revolutionary war?
• Would you hold him in such high esteem when you witnessed him whip one of his slaves at Mount Vernon?

If you saw these things you  would become; bored, disappointed and likely angry with the “father of our country”. The good news is, thanks to the goodness for storytelling (i.e., selective editing) nearly everyone likes and admires George Washington. The story has been written that way.

Human beings love stories. We have been telling them and writing them on cave walls since our beginning. Communication via storytelling in all of its derivative forms (i.e., learning, faith, culture) is what makes us different than other forms of life.

Humans really don’t become human beings until they hear their first “good” story. Children are told stories at night to comfort them in the dark and to give them “material” to dream about. Stories are the real super-heroes in our lives.

But stories and their effect on us are all powerful and everywhere. The story we tell ourselves determines; whom we will marry, our occupation and where we live. A story we hear and like is behind every purchase we make.

It’s seems to me that success as we know it (people agreeing with us, liking us and buying our stuff) is more of a function of successful story telling than anything else.

That’s why for Christmas I want to give you the gift of story-telling. Merry Christmas!

After all, if Charles Dickens didn’t write the story “A Christmas Carol” there would be no “Merry” in Christmas. See Nor would the Story of Jesus become the “Greatest Story Ever Told”.

Hope you enjoyed this story as much as I did. Stories like gifts are often more rewarding to give then to receive.

Now go tell a good story, it’s what life is all about!

Merry Christmas,


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About Thomas Paine

Thomas Paine, from Common Sense. Born to a Quaker father and an Anglican mother in England in 1737, Paine in 1774 met Benjamin Franklin, who convinced the recently dismissed officer of the excise to move to America. Within fourteen months of his arrival, Paine published Common Sense, selling over 500,000 copies in a few months. The new Continental Congress soon appointed him secretary to its foreign affairs committee. Between 1791 and 1792, Paine published in two parts his defense of the French Revolution, Rights of Man.

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Before the last candle burns out

Barrack Obama was correct to blame George Bush for the economic debacle of 2008 that persists to today.

Bush was the last batter in the 9th inning when the game ended. Holding the hot potato when the music stops, makes you the goat in politics. It’s the way Washington plays ball.

But Bush was not alone he had plenty of teammates putting him, the U.S. economy and you and I into a deep hole.

A full roster of Presidents, Congressmen and economic sages; each placed one crooked brick after the next, during the re-modeling (deregulation and debasing) of our economy over the last 40 years.

For starters, Richard Nixon; opened up trade with China (total genius).  He  took the US currency off of the gold standard which allowed future leaders to to print as much currency and create budget deficits as big as they could imagine.  Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton systematically repealed bank regulations, which eventually, turned Wall Street into a casino.

It could have been stopped. Bill Clinton’s CFTC chief; Brooksley Born, identified the looming debacle in derivative instruments 10 years before they blew up the U.S. economy and nearly the planet.

But the Clinton economic “dream team” of; Larry Summers, Robert Rubin, Alan Greenspan and Arthur Levitt wouldn’t allow it. Even each aisle of Congress tortured this woman for trying to implement the simplest of regulations to head off disaster. No one listened, including Clinton, instead they attacked her.

Memories and ownership of mistakes are weak when it comes to the economic elites. Larry Summers later became Barrack Obama’s Chief Economic Advisor (returning to the scene of the crime). Rubin went on to nearly destroy Citigroup. Only Greenspan and Levitt confessed to their lifelong insane economic policies.  But not until after, Greenspan was honored with the Presidential Medal of Honor. For nearly 30 years he deregulated everything he could lay his hands on. He assumed the “markets” would fix everything, including fraud.  I can’t think of anyone who had a bigger role in sabotaging the US economy. For that, Greenspan received the highest honor to be awarded a civilian. When fully dissected, historians and Hollywood screen writers will have a field day with this material. It’s already starting:

It’s axiomatic you don’t get today’s great problems by the acts of one president or party you need prolonged bipartisan support. You need the media and every growing marketing industry’s creative genius to sell the epic fairy tale that you could become wealthy by borrowing money and buying stuff. Greed is an “easy sell” to the weak.

You need economists and central banks that refuse to balance a check book. Who “fix problems” by making them worse by creating trillions more dollars and IOU’s by simply hitting a few keys on a computer.

You need the America’s biggest corporations, most powerful banks the best attorneys to; find all those tax and legal loopholes, craft all of those small print loan documents and to commit systematic employment outsourcing suicide.

Greed, shortsightedness and shallow thinking require a compliant host to socially spread the economic plague we are in. The complicit host that made it all possible is; me, you and most everyone else I know.

We ALL let it happen. We were the last check and balance and when the check didn’t clear, no one cared. What the big guys missed during the shellacking, we buttered ourselves in foolishness and buried ourselves in debt.

If I sound angry at nearly everyone, good, that’s what I was shooting for.

America needs to feel pain to recognize how injured we are and we need to feel the shame to have enough remorse to want to change. If the host carrier during this economic plague doesn’t change then it’s the Dark Ages for us. We will meet the same fate as the; Babylonian, Roman and Greek empires and our contribution to human civilization although promising will have been squandered and short lived.

Being optimistic and patient may be good medical advice during recovery but when the disease is metastasizing, time it the worst thing in the World for you to waste.

We need to panic ASAP, to summon the adrenaline of new ideas to create constructive change. If we delay the panic long enough the mobs will grow larger and the scavengers will become more vicious. Complacency and over confidence kills empires.  If panic wasn’t a viable option prehistoric man would never have out- run or out- smarted the lion. Panic is why we have hospital emergency rooms and not just well-mannered morgues.

Let’s ax hope and embrace panic.  Hope doesn’t create change. Urgent change creates change.

The next 4 years will be written about in history books. It will be an economic triumph or a Greek style tragedy. Barrack Obama’s will own the praise or blame. It’s his political potato now.

My family came to America in 1630 with John Winthrop, who upon reaching America’s shores wrote about “A Shinning City upon a Hill” and how America could become the inspiration of freedom and democracy to the World.

Once again, “These are the times that try men souls” but what are we going to do about it?

Before our City dims into the night, “We the people” need to take matters into our own hands. It’s our City, responsibility and opportunity now. I say, let’s panic and have a productive idea based revolution, like we did a long time ago.

Let’s not patiently wait for the last candle in the City to burn out and then ask what happened?

Brian French is former investment analyst. He blogs about innovative and provocative economic policies at the Send comments and personal attacks to:




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For whom do our troops fight and die for?

It’s a simple and admittedly provocative question.

It’s also one of the biggest questions in America that no one has asked seriously. Nor has it been thoughtfully answered by any political candidate.  Just asking the question will seem anti-American to many. But with thousands lives on the line every day and a fortune in treasure invested isn’t it anti-American not to ask?

The canned answer that you will get from nearly all politicians and Americans is that our soldiers fight and die for three things;

1. To protect Americans from harm i.e., you and me

2. To preserve our “FREEDOM”

3. To preserve  “Our way of life”

But for anyone who looks beyond the superficial the real evidence is that the prevailing opinion is either; a flag hugging patriotic myth (at best) or a mass propaganda lie (at worst).

Let’s look at the evidence and you can decide for yourself.

The big picture of the US military force Worldwide

If the US military were to be a business franchise it would be the most powerful business in the history of the World. To say the military is global in reach, is an understatement, it’s certifiably inter-galactic.

Today, there are over 1,000 U.S. military bases around the World. But it’s much deeper than just having bases, naval fleets and troops and spending tax dollars globally. We have political commitments (treaties) that could cost thousands of U.S. soldiers lives overnight.

A great example is North Korea. For 62 years and counting we have defended South Korea from the North. Today we have approx. 28,500 troops in South Korea (excluding naval vessels).   Every year we spend billions of dollars on South Korea. No one really knows or cares about the specific amount; it’s nearly a blank check.

But those billions are chicken feed. When you look at the cumulative costs of endless hot and cold wars, we are talking trillions of dollars in treasure. Budget conscience American’s are ready to pull the plug on welfare support, Social Security and Medicare for impoverished American’s. But military welfare for South Korea is a “no touch” eternal black hole of US tax dollars.

Protecting South Korea (for free) is seemingly a greater vital “interest” to the United States than preventing the US elderly from eating cat food or from veteran benefits being cut. But who decided that? And to whom is South Korea so vital to?

FACT: Since you and I live a half a world away from the Korean peninsula they aren’t protecting our interests.

South Korea is just one example. The US military operates in 38 countries Worldwide (that we know of). The US military, DOD and State Departments; build schools, teach “leadership” to governments, attempt to retrain 12th century tribal civilizations into the virtues of democracy and economics.

It doesn’t matter that these cultures don’t really want democracy or capitalism. It’s not their call… it’s ours. The US military and their foreign policy affiliates are economic “community organizers” on a global scale. But why?

It’s not any of the real “We the people” whose interests are being protected.

The real reason we have the largest and most powerful and most expensive global military force the world has ever known is that the mafia dons that pull the strings worldwide, need it that way.

Whom do most troops die for and for who do all US presidents bow down in worship to?

ANSWER: It’s the almighty US Global Corporation.

Large US Corporations really don’t care about the safety of South Korea citizens. They need safe shipping lanes from China. That’s the real vital national interest. So when US born Corporations (turn their backs on Americans) and relocate US manufacturing jobs to communist China their “investment” is safe.

Who needs reasonably priced Middle East oil to fill their gas tanks? The outsourcing super tanker fleet of corporate America, that’s who.  Creating global military dominance and economic stability is all about trade and teaching the World’s peasant class how to be a “good little consumers” for McDonalds, Walmart and Coca Cola.

The Worldwide marketing message is clear to the World. “If you weren’t such idiot peons you would realize that your need to “Keep up with the Kardasians” i.e. American consumers.

After brain washing US citizens in consumerism and burying them in debt, like an alien predator, US corporations need to move on to more fertile ground. That’s where a lot of our tax dollars are being invested in and what our young and brave America blood is being shed for.

This is not a hatchet job on American business.  I believe in American business (business and labor conducted in America). The problem is that large corporations are the problem and small business is the solution.

The staggering fact is that 78% of the businesses in America have one employee, themselves.  When they look to hire employee #2, they don’t look overseas they look next door and hire one of US.

The small solo entrepreneur is the most abused and neglected resource America.  They pay their taxes and thus subsidize their competitor the Global Corporate welfare state.   When they buy a share of stock for their IRA they finance the large corporation that is trying to annihilate them.

Even worse they send their children fight and die for Global Corporations, who in return, sell out America for a few pennies a share in earnings.


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STATISTICS LIE: The average return, the hundred year flood and Babylon

One of the things that human beings are really good at is misinterpreting facts. It’s a coping mechanism to make us feel better. Commonly accepted “facts” are twisted into more flawed conclusions than dough at a pretzel factory.

I understand we all want to maintain a hopeful perspective on the future. That is what keeps us going when things look rough. But we do ourselves a terrible disservice when we don’t examine the real risks in life.

Financial experts often tout the “average” rate of return on an investment as if it is something that can expected. The average return is nearly never achieved. It’s pretty much a lie or a severe misinterpretation of the data – to be polite about it.

What people can expect in the short term (where they live) is a return of somewhere between -50% and plus 50% annual return with more years likely to be positive than negative. This is not something that the financial service industry really wants to put in TV commercials or in its shiny brochures. Nor is it what most investors want to ponder. But it’s the truth.

Likewise assuming home prices will always increase because the have for 75 years is a recipe for mass calamity. Reality and risk have no sympathy for statistical averages, traditions or even civilizations. Trees don’t grow to the moon. They eventually mature, die and decay.

For 2,000 years Babylon was the largest are most advanced civilization in the World. Today, they have to dig in the sand to try to find evidence it ever existed.

The commonly referred risk of the “hundred year flood” doesn’t occur one time every millennium in the United States. It happens nearly every day.

Here is what the statistics really mean: If there are 100 different communities in the data set it is likely that one of these communities will have a flood every year. It’s pretty much a certainty that there will be a flood somewhere. We just don’t know where it will be or who needs to buy the galoshes.

I believe in America and the humanity of our specie despite our obvious flaws. But we need to get REAL and stop telling ourselves phony statistical fairy tales. I believe we can handle the truth.

Do you?

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10 radical ideas to jump start small business in America

Over the last 20 years large corporations have received an unfair allocation of  economic policy benefits yet have not created any net new jobs for U.S. workers.

Conversely small businesses owners have created virtually all of the U.S. employment and domestic wealth growth. Thus, small buinesses should receive a greater allocation of economic policy benefits.

1. Completely open the border with Mexico. But the immigration track for U.S. citizenship will take 3 to 5 years of “indentured servitude”. Mexican immigrants will be requried to enroll in  citizenship programs which will include business mentoring and educational programs. The minimum wage rate will be suspended for Mexican immigrants. A portion of their waged will pay for their education and deportment if they fall out of program. The allocation of immigrant workers will favor small business owners who employ less than 20 employees. No allocation will be given to large companies who employ more than 200 employees. There cannot be concentrations of immigrant workers in industries such as; farming, lawn care or housekeeping.

2. Exempt Canada, Mexico and South America from tariffs as a most favored trading partner. Create a joint security pack with Mexico and South America to eliminate the illegal drug cartels. Promote prosperity and peace with our border neighbors.

3. Create a 300% surcharge for all foreign students who attend a U.S. University. The U.S. University system is a product and assets of American society. Foreign sheiks who wish to educate their children at our top universities will have to also pay the tuition for two U.S. scholarship students.

4. Mandate that all accredited Universities must provide all of their classes online. The price for an online class must be 1/3rd the cost of an “on campus” class. We can start with all the Ivy League Schools. There cannot be a limit on the number of people who can attend Harvard, Yale or Princeton online. There cannot be any difference in an online degree vs. a campus degree. A great education should not be scarce commodity of the prividleged class.

5. Suspend all need to file income tax and pay social security taxes for all small businesses that gross less than $150,000 in revenues. Create a gentle bureaucratic pathway for those businesses that emerge above $150,000.

6. Mandate that poor credit histories of U.S. citizens be wiped clean after 6 years (reduced from 10 years). We need our economy to re-boot sooner not later.

7. Create a progressive surcharge or tax for businesses that hire foreign manufacturing workers. Impose a 40% tariff on the outsourcing of U.S. services.

8. Impose tariffs on foreign made goods. Tariff amount is based upon the average wage rate in that country. Low wage countries have high tariffs; high wage countries have low tariffs.

9. Require banks that provide business loans to sponsor educational and mentoring programs for small businesses owners. The policy goal is to transform local bank branches into small business consulting and development centers. Banks can charge consulting fees but cannot sell (non loan) products to a consulting client.

10. Create a regional micro finance small business equity funding program. Develop a pathway in which a qualifying small local business can issue stock and allow citizens to invest in a diversified portfolio of local small businesses. Create a stock market for small business.

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Why free market capitalism is a fraud

You hear it espoused in virtually all political and economic speeches… “I believe in free markets….”

There is a common myth that America is the home of free markets and our way of life was built on the free market model for its very existence – as if it was written into the U.S. Constitution. Trust me, I’ve read the Constitution – obedience to free market capitalism is not there.

The health of “free market” capitalism may be the biggest fairy tale in the World today.

Can’t we all agree that capitalism is the opposite of a centrally controlled big government economic policy?

But who is the dominant global economic winner today?

ANSWER: CHINA – Which is the largest and most repressive and centrally controlled communist state in the World… hardly a free market society.

Evidence that Free Markets don’t exist in the U.S.

• Insurance on financial deposits – (free markets say) that bad banks and foolish depositors should lose money.
• The Federal Reserve – (free markets say) that interest rates should set their own levels.
• Big companies get bailed out while small companies are allowed to die.
• Only a big business has the financial power to outsource jobs to peasants overseas. (a dry cleaner can’t hire a slave for 20 cents a day – but General Electric can)
• Rescue plan of the day banks, countries, industries, people… you name it

The only criterion on whether a “free markets” exists is the willingness for free markets to find their own organic price levels without government interference. Capitalism means that ideas and capital have the “equal opportunity’ to succeed and fail.

When an unproductive business and economic venture no longer supports itself under the free market model, they are allowed to wither and die. In fact, free markets require that the new must replace the old. (watch the Steve Jobs commencement speech)

Or put more bluntly, something old MUST die to provide the fertilizer and living space for the new.
It’s been the story of all living organisms big and small for millions of years.  It’s got a longer and better track record than any economist.

America is caught in the middle… it does not know how to centrally control its resources (like China can). Nor can it live under its own rules of free market capitalism.

Personally I favor the cleansing process of true free markets, but most people can’t handle the truth of; death and re-birth. If you like the flowering of Spring and Summer you have to value and honor the purpose of Fall and Winter.

Who are the constituents that fear “free markets” the most? It’s the powerful elite in our society who milk the dying cow i.e., large business, government, lobbyists (those who have a lot to lose).

We the people… should let free market capitalism reap what it has sown… which is failure. That’s what free market capitalism is all about.


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If by Rudyard Kipling


IF you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
‘ Or walk with Kings – nor lose the common touch,
if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!

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Paine Vs. Adams

How John Adams and Thomas Paine Clashed Over Economic Equality
In “Common Sense,” Paine pushed for economic equality for ordinary Americans. Which made John Adams a bit queasy.

Here’s John Adams on Thomas Paine’s famous 1776 pamphlet “Common Sense“: “What a poor, ignorant, malicious, short-sighted, crapulous mass.” Then comes Paine on Adams: “John was not born for immortality.”

Paine and Adams may have been alone among the founders for having literary styles adequate to their mutual disregard. “The spissitude [sic!] of the black liquor which is spread in such quantities by this writer,” Adams wrote of Paine, “prevents its daubing.” Paine: “Some people talk of impeaching John Adams, but I am for softer measures. I would keep him to make fun of.”

They went on and on.

The Paine-Adams antipathy wasn’t just personal. Its sources lay in the founding generation’s deep political divisions over economic equality. Those who don’t know there was a founding political division over economic equality can thank the many historians — who feel more comfortable with philosophies of government, issues in constitutional law than with day-to-day American economic realities, and with the full range of 18th-century thinking from elite to working-class, on monetary and finance policy.

Things John Adams hated about “Common Sense” are revealing. One was the pamphlet’s widespread reputation as the tipping point for America’s declaration of independence from England. Adams thought that was nonsense.

The only novel thing in “Common Sense,” Adams believed — and he meant it in a bad way — wasn’t what he cast as its belated, derivative call for American independence. It was what he blasted as Paine’s “democratical” plan for a new kind of American government, which flew in the face of the balanced republicanism that Adams loved. That part of the pamphlet was its only important part to John Adams, but it is often ignored or glossed over in favor of celebrating what Adams thought the pamphlet never did: persuade Americans to support independence.

In proposing a new American government, Paine scoffed caustically at the whole idea of balance and the covalence among branches that we’re taught to revere as exceptionally American, but were really derived from the post-Settlement English constitution. Where Adams saw checks and balances as key to liberty, Paine wanted an executive branch subordinated to a hyper-representative legislature (a single house, with no check from any elite “upper” house) and a judiciary directly elected by the people.

Most horrifying to Adams, Paine wanted citizens to have the vote regardless of property ownership. While in “Common Sense” Paine dialed back his thoughts on equality, arguing only for easy access to the franchise, in other works he promoted smashing the ancient equation that liberty-loving Whigs had always made between property and representation. Paine wanted the less propertied and — horrors! — even the unpropertied not only to vote in a free America, but also to hold office.

Paine’s goal in giving the lower sort and the poor access to political power was economic equality. When ordinary Americans held power, they would pass laws promoting the interests of ordinary Americans — and obstructing, not coincidentally, the interests of finance elites. And that’s just what happened in Pennsylvania beginning in 1776, when Paine’s friends wrote a constitution for that state, based largely on Paine’s ideas, removing the property qualification for the first meaningful time anywhere.

Assemblies elected under that constitution passed anti-monopoly laws, worked to bring about government debt relief, and took away the charter of the bank founded by the high financier Robert Morris for the purpose of enriching himself and his friends.

The ideas in “Common Sense” that John Adams feared and loathed became realities in Pennsylvania. Many historians celebrating Paine’s goals of liberty and independence fail to acknowledge that for Paine, those goals were inextricable from political equality for the people he spoke for: ordinary working Americans.

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Firery Letter to George Washington (sounds familar)

Excerpts From Letter Written to George Washington 7/30/1796 from Thomas Paine

Monopolies of every kind marked your administration almost in the moment of its commencement. The lands obtained by the Revolution were lavished upon partisans; the interest of the disbanded soldier was sold to the speculator; injustice was acted under the pretense of faith; and the chief of the army became the patron of the fraud.

Elevated to the chair of the Presidency, you assumed the merit of everything to yourself, and the natural ingratitude of your constitution began to appear. You commenced your Presidential career by encouraging and swallowing the grossest adulation, and you traveled America from one end to the other to put yourself in the way of receiving it.

You have as many addresses in your chest as James II. As to what were your views, for, if you are not great enough to have ambition, you are little enough to have vanity, they cannot be directly inferred from expressions of your own; buy the partisans of your politics have divulged the secret.

From such a beginning what else could be expected than what has happened? A mean and servile submission to the insults of one nation; treachery and ingratitude to another.

I permitted myself to ramble into the wilderness of imagination, and to anticipate what might hereafter be the condition of America.

A thousand years hence (for I must indulge a few thoughts), perhaps in less, America may be what Europe now is. The innocence of her character, that won the hearts of all nations in her favor, may sound like a romance and her inimitable virtue as if it had never been.

The ruin of that liberty which thousands bled for or struggled to obtain may just furnish materials for a village tale or extort a sigh from rustic sensibility, whilst the fashionable of that day, enveloped in dissipation, shall deride the principle and deny the fact.

When we contemplate the fall of empires and the extinction of the nations of the Ancient World, we see but little to excite our regret than the mouldering ruins of pompous palaces, magnificent museums, lofty pyramids and walls and towers of the most costly workmanship; but when the empire of America shall fall, the subject for contemplative sorrow will be infinitely greater than crumbling brass and marble can inspire.

It will not then be said, here stood a temple of vast antiquity; here rose a babel of invisible height; or there a palace of sumptuous extravagance; but here, Ah, painful thought! the noblest work of human wisdom, the grandest scene of human glory, the fair cause of Freedom rose and fell. Read this, and then ask if I forget America.


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The Future of Elections… May the best tweeter win

To me the future of the political process is obvious. The victor of any election should be the person who comes up with the best ideas and solutions that meets the needs of the electorate.

Our political system is archaic, elitist and economically wasteful. Currently only those who move up the economic and political ladder have a voice that the greater community can hear. That’s dangerous and prone to corruption and  suppressive of constructive democratic change.

Whats more the masses have a growing voice that the embedded political establishment are doomed to fail to control.  What is that voice that even the government can stifle?

It’s the voice of social media like twitter and here is how it can work. Let’s say there is a debate for president with the usual political hacks. But in addition to the public candidates, there are 30 of the best tweeting political policy finalists from across America.

When the debate starts so does the tweeting. When a question is asked a tweeter responds which is displayed on America’s  TV sets. The rest of the nation votes (likes) who they feel has the best ideas.

The botton 3 polictical candidates are taken off the debate stage and the 3 best online tweeters join the national debate in person next month.

The end result… the best tweeter and ideas win the presidency… and so does America.

It’s only a matter of time… before we pick an American Idol president.

By the way… this format could work for any issue or TV programming  and it could be an important feedback loop for our society.

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Does America need a Crash to save itself?

The one sickening season that never changes in America is the political season. Repub’s blame “entitlements” i.e., the lazy poor. The Dem’s blame the greedy rich. I can agree and disagree with both sides in small measure.  But neither is entirely correct.

A remedy based upon a flawed diagnosis can never heal a seriously ill patient, or a country.  To cure America we need to know what’s really wrong.

The problem is that drilling down into the specifics where the real cancer is metastasizing, is the last thing on either party’s mind or agenda. It’s way too bloody and complex. There are real trade-offs that are hard to stomach.

Preaching the benefits of short term pain to achieve long term health isn’t something that political salesman like to sell. The chemo therapy sounds way too scary for our “leadership”.

That‘s why I am hoping for a crash

Crashes as we all know from personal experience, shock us into asking important question we don’t like to deal with during our normal lives (of quiet desperation and shallow goals).

Questions like: If I lose my job, run out of money, get foreclosed upon. What will I do next? Is there anyone or anything out there that cares enough to help? Is it simply every man volume pills ejaculate for themselves?

An even tougher question is: If someone I cared about lost their job, house and earning power would I help them?

For me whether America survives, heals and recovers to even greater glory depends on the answer. Today, much of America faces scenario one or scenario two. It’s time to man up, be courageous (listen to the whisper) take our medicine and find our compassion.

But if we never have the crash we may never see and mettle and greatness of the United States of America.

I say stop the addiction, pull the plug on the bubble, let it all crash. I believe we can take it. Let the recession / “refreshion” begin  and let the stock market fall to 4,000.

Let’s purge it all… stop the outsourcing of America, bulldoze a few shopping malls (consumerism), double bunk with the in-laws, hug more, laugh more, cry and pray together…like the good ole’ days.

That’s what I am praying for. I believe in resurrections can be beautiful things…do you have that kind of faith in America?

Today, is our country’s George Bailey moment on the bridge. We need a leap of faith to find the bedrock of our culture and humanity.

Do we want Pottersville or Bedford Falls?  The future is ours to choose.

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Strength Through Weakness

This poem was found on the body of an unknown soldier, killed at the battle of Gettysburg during the American Civil War of 1863.

Strength Through Weakness

I asked for strength, that I might achieve,
He made me weak that I might learn
humbly to obey…
I asked for health, that I might do greater things,
I was given infirmity, that I might do
better things …
I asked for riches, that I might be happy,
I was given poverty, that I might be wise …
I asked for power, that I might have the praise of men,
I was given weakness that I might feel the need of God …
I asked for all things, that I might enjoy life,
I was given life, that I may enjoy all things …
I got nothing that I asked for, but everything that I had hoped for,
Almost despite myself, my unspoken prayers were answered,
I am among all men, most richly blessed.

“Grace groweth best in the winter,”(Psalm 119:71).

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Thomas Paine BIO

The radical propagandist and voice of the common man, Thomas Paine, was born in Thetford in Norfolk on January 29, 1737. His father, Joseph, was a poor Quaker corset maker who tried to provide his son with an education at the local grammar school but eventually was forced to apprentice him to his trade. Paine was unable to accept this occupation.

After a short time at sea, Paine returned to his trade in Kent, but then served as an exciseman in Lincolnshire, followed by a stint as a school teacher in London, before he again settled down in 1768 as an excise officer in Lewes in East Sussex. For the next six years he combined his duties as excise officer with managing a small shop. His first wife had died in 1760, within a year of their marriage. In 1771 he married again. Both marriages were childless and neither brought Paine much in the way of happiness. He was legally separated from his second wife in 1774, just as he was about to embark for the American colonies.

At Lewes, Paine was active in local affairs, serving on the town council and establishing a debating club at a local tavern. As a shopkeeper, however, he was a failure. In April 1774, Paine was discharged from his duties for having absented himself from his post without leave. He published the pamphlet The Case of the Officers of Excise (London, 1772), and had devoted too much time campaigning in London on behalf of the excise officers. In London he met Benjamin Franklin who helped him to emigrate to America in October 1774.

Paine settled in Philadelphia where he soon began a new career as a journalist. He contributed articles to the Pennsylvania Magazine on a wide range of topics. Thus on January 10, 1776, he published a short pamphlet, Common Sense, which immediately established his reputation as a revolutionary propagandist. Although he had only been in America less than a year, Paine committed himself to the cause of American independence. He attacked monarchical government and the alleged virtues of the British constitution, opposing any reconciliation with Great Britain. He also urged an immediate declaration of independence and the establishment of a republican constitution.

Paine was convinced that the American Revolution  was a crusade for a superior political system and that America was ultimately unconquerable. He did as much as any writer could to encourage resistance and to inspire faith in the Continental Army. I essays published in the Pennsylvania Journal under the heading “Crisis,” Paine attacked the faint-hearted, campaigned for a more efficient federal and state tax system to meet the costs of war, and encouraged the belief that Britain would eventually recognize American independence.

Often tactless, Paine provoked considerable controversy. He was invariable hard-pressed for money and had to depend upon the generosity of his American friends and the occasional reward from the French envoy in America. When the War came to an end, his financial position was so precarious that he had to campaign to obtain recompense from the government. Congress eventually rewarded him $3000. Pennsylvania granted him ?00 in cash, while New York proved more generous and gave him a confiscated Loyalist farm at New Rochelle.

After American independence had been won, Paine played no part in the establishment of the new republic. Instead, he busied himself trying to invent a smokeless candle and devising an iron bridge.

Restless because he was no longer at the center of affairs, Paine left for Europe in 1787. For the next four years he divided his time between Britain and France. Although he spent much of his time trying to find financial support for his iron bridge, he eventually resumed work as a revolutionary propagandist in the 1790s. Burke’s resistance to the French Revolution inspired Paine to write his most influential work, the Rights of Man (Part I in 1791, Part II in 1792). In Part I, Paine urged political rights for all men because of their natural equality in the sight of God. All forms of hereditary government, including the British constitution, were condemned because they were based on farce or force. Only a democratic republic could be trusted to protect the equal political rights of all men. Part II was even more radical for Paine argued for a whole program of social legislation to deal with the shocking condition of the poor. His popularity sounded the alarm and he was forced to leave Britain in September 1792. He was condemned in his absence and declared an outlaw.

Paine immediately immersed himself in French affairs for the next ten years although he still hoped to see a revolution in Britain. In his Letter Addressed to the Addressers of the Late Proclamation (London, 1792), he rejected the policy of appealing to parliament for reform and instead urged British radicals to call a national convention to establish a republican form of government.

In August 1792, Paine was made a French citizen and a month later was elected to the National Convention. Since he did not speak French, and had to have his speeches read for him, Paine did not make much of an impact on the Convention. His association with the moderate republicans (Girondins) made him suspect in the Jacobin camp. In January 1793, he alienated many extremists by opposing the execution of Louis XVI. When military defeat fanned Jacobinism into hysteria, he fell victim to the Terror. From December 28, 1793, until November 4, 1794, he was incarcerated in Luxembourg prison until the intercession of the new American minister, James Monroe, secured his release.

During his imprisonment, Paine embarked on his third influential work, The Age of Reason (London and Boston, 1794-95). A deist manifesto to the core, Paine acknowledged his debt to Newton and declared that nature was the only form of divine revelation, for God had clearly established a uniform, immutable and eternal order throughout creation. Paine rejected Christianity, denied that the Bible was the revealed word of God, condemned many of the Old Testament stories as immoral and claimed that the Gospels were marred by discrepancies. There was nothing really that new in Paine’s argument, but the bitterness of his attack on the Christian churches and his attempt to preach deism to the masses made him more enemies than before.

After wearing out his welcome in Paris, Paine finally returned to America in October 1802 and was well-received by Thomas Jefferson. Increasingly neglected and ostracized, Paine’s last years were marked by poverty, poor health and alcoholism. When he died in New York on June 8, 1809, he was virtually an outcast. Since he could not be buried in consecrated ground, he was laid to rest n a corner of his small farm in New Rochelle.

Paine never established a political society or organization and was not responsible for a single reforming measure. His achievements were all with his pen so it is difficult to accurately assess his influence. Although he spent more than ten years in France, he had very little influence on the course of the French Revolution. He did not really understand the Revolution and therefore had little impact on its intellectual foundations. Indeed, to the Jacobins on the far left, Paine appeared as too moderate and faint-hearted.

Paine’s political influence was greatest in England. In intellectual terms, his Rights of Man was his greatest political work and was certainly the best-selling radical political tract in late 18th century England. Before Paine, British radicals sought a reform of Parliament which would grant to all men the vote for members of the House of Commons. In his Rights of Man, Paine abandoned this approach and, rejecting the lessons of history, maintained that each age had the right to establish a political system which satisfied its needs. He rested his case on the moral basis of the natural equality of men in the sight of God. Since government is a necessary evil that men accepted as a means of protecting their natural rights (cf. John Locke), the only legitimate government was that established by a contract between all members of society and one in which all men preserved all their natural rights, except the individual right to use force. Paine argued rationally that all men had an equal claim to political rights and that government must rest on the ultimate sovereignty of the people.

“African Slavery in America”
The Age of Reason

The American Crisis
The Complete Writings of Thomas Paine (Philip Foner, 1945)
Rights of Man

Other Resources
Biography of Tom Paine (Benny Leemhuis)
“Six Historic Americans: Tom Paine” (John E. Remsburg)
Thomas Paine National Historical Association

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How to properly split up the banks? Hire librarians

If we had to do it all over again (which we may) the banking business would look nothing like it does today.

It’s one of the last remaining 18th century business models. The dinosaur of; savings accounts, community lending and bank tellers is an emaciated beast which has been kept on life support. Its time to let her go.

We are in the information age of the internet, PayPal and the automated teller machine. Furthermore, large scale bankers are really not that interested in the whole deposit and lending thing. Who could blame them, it’s boring.

Let’s face it, in a World of FICO scores and the internet there really isn’t much for a cracker-jack lender to really ponder anymore. Loan “analysis” is 3rd grade math, that barely needs a calculator.

What large banks really like is Wall Street complexity, fun stuff like global derivatives and investment banking. That is where their heart lies. I say we should cut the bankers loose so they can pursue their passions.

They just have to leave their deposit and lending business and branches behind. Furthermore, Daddy U.S. government (i.e., the tax payers) aren’t going to bail you out anymore, message to bankers your liberated and free to be foolish. Good luck.

Where I live there is a string of six banks within a half a mile. It’s redundant and wasteful. From the outside they all looked alike other than their logos. On it inside; bored tellers file their nails, managers try to look busy. The “team” all anxiously hopes that someone (anyone) comes in, so they can apply their well-honed “Welcome skills”.

An exciting day in the branch banking today is when someone with a cute dog goes thru the drive thru. Other than that it’s crickets… For the good of humanity 4 or 5 of these branches should be closed.

The sticky wicket is that bank deposits are guaranteed (by all of us) which means that whoever is in charge of the till better be a librarian and not a river boat gambler.

The good news is that we do have a librarian business model that seems to work well most of the time. It’s called regulated public utilities.

Political conservatives should be relieved that it’s not a socialist plot (at least it’s a plot that they have seen before). Political liberals may appreciate “common good” principles of public rate hearings and the exodus of the fat cats (boring regulated businesses don’t pay that well).

The banking industry sole purpose is to efficiently allocate capital and resources to a higher and better use. It’s time for the banking industry to “re-allocate” itself.

The age of the dinosaur is over… they consume too much resources, they have a mean bite and they are way too hard to clean up after.

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The 1 step to end the U.S. economic debacle

Forget bailouts. The U.S. Government has to get greedy and drink the animal spirits of capitalism and buy cheap assets and buy big. The Thomas Jefferson – Louisiana Purchase kind of big and cheap. The operative question is what should they buy and why?

The answer is simple. U.S. residential real estate. Why? Because it is likely the best investment in the World. What makes residential real estate a good bet to invest trillions of dollars into?

Because real estate can provide cash flow i.e. rents that will more than cover the government miniscule cost of capital (of nearly zero). It’s really not a political debate but more an issue of math which in most cases is hard to argue with a Government “get greedy” approach.

Typical U.S. House
Price 2005 $425,000 5% mortgage 2,281 + tax/insurance $219
Mortgage and tax payment for cost est. $2,600

Purchase price today for same house $225,000
Govt. mortgage rate 3.5% = $860 monthly payment plus $219 (taxes and insurance) = $1,079

What should the U.S. Government do with the house they bought for $225,000? They should rent it out to the current occupant for $1,500 to $1,700 a month and pocket the difference.

The “unintended consequences” of greed are pretty virtuous when the “price is right”. It creates a rock solid floor in which rent payments remove the downside risk to real estate.

It a simple fact, when the downside risk is truncated in an investment, what remains is the upside. Just announcing the idea that the government is “exploring the opportunity” would likely boost the real estate market 10 to 20%.

I say the U.S. government should call the gloomy real estate market bluff and threaten to buy and buy big. Not because they want to save anyone, or anything but because they know a great deal when they see one.

The end result …. debacle over…just remember this was my idea first.

(media call 813 944-3190)

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What America really needs: Clean house on the Ark

You see it in all the doomsday movies; top political, social and business leaders are whisked away to safe location before a meteor, atomic bomb or killer tomato hits the earth and kills the unwashed masses, i.e. us the common man.

I think it’s time to pull the current “A lists” admission tickets. Because if they are around after the disaster I’m sure they will make things much, much worse after the big one hits.

Here is the list of “A” characters that can be left off the Ark when the next flood hits:

• Republicans that think that things will be better if they win the next election
• Democrats that think that things will be better if they win re-election
• Bankers (we will self finance next time around)
• TV commentators
• Economists
• Investment analysts
• Advertising agencies that produce mind numbing and deceptive ads
• Cold callers
• Anyone who discusses their product in small print
• Lobbyists
• Anyone who works with financial derivatives
• Bill collectors (we are rebooting debt free)
• Diet and weight loss or exercise producteers with semenax (we will have plenty of work to do)
• Spammers who write you an offer in a foreign language
• People that think we need to save the World
• People that think God wants to punish the World
• Anyone who watches Jersey Shores or the Bad Girls Club
• Anyone in the male enhancement industry
• People that get sea sick easily

Now that we cleared out the dead wood here’s who can get on the Love Boat:

• Kids
• Fisherman
• Farmers
• Nurses
• Veterans
• Pediatricians
• Pets
• Veterinarians (I never met one that wasn’t nice)
• Story tellers
• Comedians
• Chefs
• Sanitation professionals
• Pest control technicians
• All the survivalist guys on TV
• Teachers
• Small business owners
• Baseball players
• Singers and song writers
• Social workers
• Paramedics
• Hospice and Red Cross workers
• Reformed criminals (we need to teach future generations forgiveness)

Who do you vote off the Island… and do you want to start a new civilization with?

By the way, why do we need a calamity to lessen the former “A” list authority and to clean house?

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5 Good things about a crisis…

1. Houston we have a problem…
The biggest roadblock to progress is the stubborn devotion to the past and not challenging the status quo. A crisis need not be paralyzing but can be liberating. Unleash your creativity, vision and passion!

2. To build something GREAT something has to come down first….
When you build a grand house or virtually anything worthwhile you have to take down some trees and push some dirt around. For meaningful progress; bulldozers work better than garden trowels. Be bold but patient, hold on to your vision and understand that things always look messy and confusing when they are “under construction”.

3. New winners and opportunities….
The new winners embrace change, the losers long for yesteryear. Small guys can “run for daylight” when the big guys fall to the ground. Those who want to start the game over can race across the new victory line of their choosing vs. riding that old dead horse, down that worn out path.

4. Wisdom and creativity beats smarts every time…
If you lived through a crisis you learned a lot about yourself; your strength and weak ness’s. When we are “riding high on the ego train” we don’t learn that much and act too cool. Humility comes before honor. Simple truths are now pursued, not complex errors. The school of hard knocks gives the noblest of degrees.

5. The friends you find under hard times are keepers…
If you have a friend in a crisis the “true you” is validated as being more “lovable” than you could have imagined (kind of heartwarming isn’t it?). Your true wealth was more than you thought. A man that has friends cannot fail. Be grateful for this blessing… look around and be a blessing to others. Spread the wealth!

What was the “crisis” all about…? …I forget.

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Is social media the last hope for the middle class?

Sobering facts:

Real (inflation adjusted) income for men in the U.S. has NOT increased for over 35 years.

Increase spending in the U.S. during the last generation has been a function of two things:

#1 The (false) wealth effect – greater spending due to higher assets values of stock portfolio’s and home prices.  

#2 Growth of women in the workforce (dual income households).  

The default rate for small business administration loans has skyrocketed from 2.5% 5 years ago to over 12% today.  In some parts of the country the SBA default rate is near 30%. Lending to small business is not a viable investment anymore.

Large business benefits when small business disappears. More market share… less competition – greater pricing power.

Because large companies have superior financial strength they can (over) invest in advertising and marketing to grow.

83% of TV ads don’t cover the cost of running the ad. Large companies have money to burn. The death of the yellow pages has crippled many small businesses.

Small business can now only invest in very high ROI marketing strategies.   

Is social media and internet marketing the only strategy that gives small business hope?

But if small business owners aren’t getting social media  / internet marketing results have they exhausted their final opportunity to compete?

What do you think?

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Are Big Companies the “Benedict Arnold” of the U.S. economy?

U.S. multinational corporations, the big brand-name companies that employ a fifth of all American workers, have been hiring abroad while cutting back at home, sharpening the debate over globalization’s effect on the U.S. economy.

The companies cut their work forces in the U.S. by 2.9 million during the 2000s while increasing employment overseas by 2.4 million, new data from the U.S. Commerce Department show. That’s a big switch from the 1990s, when they added jobs everywhere: 4.4 million in the U.S. and 2.7 million abroad.

In all, U.S. multinationals employed 21.1 million people at home in 2009 and 10.3 million elsewhere, including increasing numbers of higher-skilled foreign workers.

The trend highlights the growing importance of other economies, particularly in rapidly growing Asia, to big U.S. businesses such as General Electric Co., Caterpillar Inc., Microsoft Corp. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

The data also underscore the vulnerability of the U.S. economy, particularly at a time when unemployment is high and wages aren’t rising. Jobs at multinationals tend to pay above-average wages and, for decades, sustained the American middle class.

Some on the left view the job trend as reason for the U.S. government to keep companies from easily exporting work overseas and importing products back to the U.S. or to more aggressively match job-creating policies used in some foreign markets. More business-friendly analysts view the same data as the sign that the U.S. may be losing its appeal as a place for big companies to invest and hire.

“It’s definitely something to worry about,” says economist Matthew Slaughter, who served as an adviser to former president George W. Bush. Mr. Slaughter, now at Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business, is among those who think the U.S. has lost some allure.

A decade ago, Mr. Slaughter, who consults for several big companies and trade associations, drew attention with his observation that “for every one job that U.S. multinationals created abroad…they created nearly two U.S. jobs in their [U.S.-based] parents.” That was true in the 1990s, he says. It is no longer.

The Commerce Department’s summary of its latest annual survey shows that in 2009, a recession year in which multinationals’ sales and capital spending fell, the companies cut 1.2 million, or 5.3%, of their workers in the U.S. and 100,000, or 1.5%, of those abroad.

The growth of their overseas work forces is a sensitive point for U.S. companies. Many of them don’t disclose how many of their workers are abroad. And some who do won’t talk about it. “We will decline to comment on future hiring or head-count numbers,” says Kimberly Pineda, director of corporate public relations for Oracle Corp.

Those who will talk say the trend, in some instances, reflects the rising productivity of U.S. factories and, in general, a world in which the U.S. represents a smaller piece of a bigger whole. “As a greater percentage of our sales have been outside the U.S., we have seen our work force outside the U.S. grow,” says Jim Dugan, spokesman for construction-equipment maker Caterpillar, which has added jobs more rapidly abroad than in the U.S.

The Commerce Department’s totals mask significant differences among the big companies. Some are shrinking employment at home and abroad while increasing productivity. Others are hiring everywhere. Still others are cutting jobs at home while adding them abroad.

At some companies, hiring to sell or make products abroad means more research or design jobs in the U.S. At others, overseas hiring simply shifts production away from the U.S. The government plans to release details about various industries and countries in November.

While hiring, firing, acquiring and divesting in recent years, GE has been reducing the overall size of its work force both domestically and internationally. Between 2005 and 2010, the industrial conglomerate cut 1,000 workers overseas and 28,000 in the U.S.

Jeffrey Immelt, GE’s chief executive, says these cuts don’t reflect a relentless search for the lowest wages, or at least they don’t any longer. “We’ve globalized around markets, not cheap labor. The era of globalization around cheap labor is over,” he said in a speech in Washington last month. “Today we go to Brazil, we go to China, we go to India, because that’s where the customers are.”

In 2000, 30% of GE’s business was overseas; today, 60% is. In 2000, 46% of GE employees were overseas; today, 54% are.

Mr. Immelt says GE did or will add 16,000 U.S. jobs in manufacturing or high-tech services in 2010 and 2011, including 150 in Erie, Pa., making locomotives for China, and 400 at a smart-grid technology center in Atlanta.

Caterpillar increasingly relies on foreign markets for its sales. It has been adding workers world-wide—except for global layoffs in 2009, amid the recession—but is hiring much faster abroad. Between 2005 and 2010, its work force grew by 3,400 workers, or 7.8%, in the U.S. and 15,900, or nearly 39%, overseas.

Mr. Dugan, the company spokesman, says Caterpillar still does most of its research and development in Peoria, Ill., where it is based, and that “a little over half” of its planned $3 billion in capital spending this year is earmarked for facilities in the U.S.

Several high-tech companies have been expanding their work forces both domestically and abroad, but doing much more of their hiring outside the U.S.

Oracle, which makes business hardware and software, added twice as many workers overseas over the past five years as in the U.S. At the beginning of the 2000s, it had more workers at home than abroad; at the end of 2010, 63% of its employees were overseas. The company says it still does 80% of its R&D in the U.S.

Similarly, Cisco Systems Inc., which makes networking gear, has been creating jobs much more rapidly abroad. Over the past five years, it has added 10,900 employees in the U.S. and 21,350 outside it. At the beginning of the decade, 26% of its work force was abroad; at the end, 46% was.

Microsoft is an exception. It cut its head count globally last year, but over the past five years, the software giant has added more jobs in the U.S. (15,300) than abroad (13,000). About 60% of Microsoft’s employees are in the U.S.

While small, young companies are vital to U.S. economic growth, big multinationals remain a major force. A report by McKinsey Global Institute, the think-tank arm of the big consulting firm, estimates that multinationals account for 23% of the nation’s private-sector output and 48% of its exports of goods.

These companies are more exposed to global competition than many smaller ones, but also more capable of taking advantage of globalization by shifting production, and thus can be a harbinger of things to come.

The economists who advised McKinsey on its report dubbed multinationals “canaries in the coal mine.” They include Mr. Slaughter and Clinton White House veterans Laura Tyson, of the University of California, Berkeley, and Martin Baily, of the Brookings Institution.

They warn that a combination of the U.S. tax code, the declining state of U.S. infrastructure, the quality of the country’s education system and barriers to the immigration of skilled workers may be making the U.S. less attractive to multinationals. “We can excoriate them” and also listen to them, Mr. Slaughter says of the multinationals. “But we can’t just excoriate them.”

Other observers see the trend as a failure of U.S. policies to counter aggressive foreign governments. “All the incentives in the global economy—an overvalued U.S. dollar, lower corporate taxes abroad, very aggressive investment incentives abroad, government pressure abroad versus none at home—are such as to steadily move the production of tradable goods and the provision of tradable services out of the U.S.,” says Clyde Prestowitz, a former trade negotiator turned critic of U.S. trade policy. “That has been having, and will continue to have, a negative impact on U.S. employment and wages.”

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6 Things baseball has taught me about life…

1. In baseball if you fail only 7 out of 10 times you might end up in the Hall of Fame. With this fact in mind, players are eager to get up at bat they “dare to fail”.

Pretty much all teams in baseball win 1/3 of their games and lose 1/3 of their games. It’s the other 3rd that determines success. Can you risk failing in public like a ball player does in front of 30,000 angry fans?

Do you take baby swings in life or simply bunt or just hope to draw a walk?

2. Life like baseball has a long season. After 162 games the different between the # 1 team and the #2 team could be a few “bounces of the ball”. To stay focused during so much chaos, uncertainty and pressure is an act of courage and emotional strength.

3. Baseball players work long hours and have a strong support network. Baseball players get to the park in the early afternoon they practice (to constantly refine their craft) and then wait for hours (they are patient).

Every player on the field is moving with every pitch in anticipation of action (constantly prepared to perform). Ball games start a 7:05pm and end at around 11:00pm by the time they unwind, eat and go to bed it must be 1:00am.

They are on the road 50% of the time, their families make big sacrifices too.

4. We all go through slumps in life and we all make errors. People cheer us when we win and boo us when we lose but we are the same person regardless of the result. A lot of things in life are out of our control.

The most loyal fans in sports Cubs and Red Sox have tasted the most bitter defeats. But, it makes the Glory to come even more powerful. (thanks Billy B.) We are at our best when we forgive ourselves or our team mates and press on.

5. Don’t ever lose the passion to win in the big leagues. Don’t settle for a mid level (minor league) job that you could easily succeed at. Reach for the glory of the big leagues and have the courage to swing at every good pitch and slide hard into home.

6. Some day the game will be over, no one plays or lives forever. Make the best use of your time. Leave a legacy of goodwill behind with fans, team mates your community and organization.

Coach others and share your wisdom. Give them your respect and love regardless their results!

Who is your hero? here is mine….

The outstanding hitter known for a costly World Series error had just thrown out the ceremonial first pitch to a loud ovation before the Red Sox home opener. It was a strike to former teammate Dwight Evans.

The experience, Buckner said, was “probably about as emotional as it could get.”

But he nearly decided not to come.

The former first baseman knew the same old questions would crop up about that play 22 years ago that has been replayed on television hundreds of times.

At first, he turned down the team’s request. A few days later he agreed to return to Fenway Park for the first time since 1997 when he was batting coach with the Chicago White Sox.

“I really had to forgive,” he said after collecting himself, “not the fans of Boston per se, but I would have to say, in my heart, I had to forgive the media…”

“I don’t think that in society in general that’s the way we should operate. What are you teaching kids? Not to try because if you don’t succeed then you’re going to buried, so don’t try?” he said.

Another pause, this one for 10 seconds, before he continued, “…for what they put me and my family through. So I’ve done that. I’m over that. And I’m just happy that I just try to think of the positive. The happy things.”

Personal comment:
Now that is courage and class. Bill, you can be on my team anytime. You always were!

The best pitch ever thrown!

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Is the deck stacked against the common man in business?

Marketing for small business has hit a brick wall in effectiveness (no, it’s not just you). 25 years ago, all a small business guy had to do is place an ad in the Yellow Pages and the phone would ring. 

Here is what has changed. 

  1. Not many people use the Yellow Pages and the phone doesn’t ring anymore.
  2. Fragmentation: The average consumer is exposed to over 30,000 marketing messages a day from all forms of media. More messages but still only 24 hours in a day, which means that ALL consumers “tune out” from ALL messages.
  3. 87% of TV advertisements don’t cover their marketing costs. Large profitable companies have money to burn. They are happy losing money, telling their “branding message” and polluting the marketing pool we all swim in.  
  4. If business is good for a large company they can barrow money at 1%. If times are bad for large company they can get bailed out by the government and still advertise in every ball park in America.
  5. If a small company has a better product than a large one: no one would know about it.
  6. Marketing experts agree that “frequency of a marketing message” creates trust NOT “product integrity”. Proof: Ducks and Lizards are the top salesman in the insurance industry.
  7. Sure, the internet is a great marketing tool. But every website is a “custom marketing job”. There are a billion websites out there; what makes yours different? Better? Can you be found?
  8. Due to fragmentation, nearly all marketing campaigns today require higher upfront costs and longer payback periods.
  9. Most marketing consumers are bewildered and have shorter time horizons then ever before. They often abandon attractive long term marketing opportunities after a few months.
  10. The demand for immediate ROI marketing campaigns creates a “rabbit hunt mentality”. Often smaller companies are attracted to “hyped up” marketing offers because of their refusal to accept point # 8. 
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Free = Anarchy

It’s a Free World… Free Enterprise… Free Markets… Free Speech

 We all have heard these buzz words all of our lives until now no one has challenged these popular phrases, literally. Humanity can quickly fall off a cliff if such words were actually to become reality and I am afraid they are. 

 Our society is moving from the noble benefits of; freedom of enterprise, freedom of markets, and the freedom of speech towards the cheapness of enterprise, cheapness of products (markets) and the cheap rancor of free speech.  Being cheap and hunting for “free” bargains can suck the blood out of our economy if we let it and the Internet can be the vacuum pump.  

 Free; (adj) without cost, payment or charge.

 My contention is that the closer a society gets to “free” the closer it gets to anarchy. Yeah, I mean real anarchy; mobs with torches and pitchforks, bodies on the streets and Marshall Law type of anarchy.  The fact is that you can’t get a good riot off the ground without someone demanding the ultimate bargain…” free stuff”.

 People don’t act much different than a frenzied pond of fish when free pellets are cast upon the water.  Have you seen the behavior of “sweet innocent brides to-be” at 80% off bridal sales or midnight (commando) Christmas bargain shoppers?

 Like the wedding dress, greed can tear to shreds the fabric of our society and ruin its purpose if we let it.

 The internet is loaded with FREE things that bait and snare people everyday. Most of the time, the one giving out the FREE cheese is the one that gets whacked. My complaint is that people can’t recognize (or respect) a great deal when they see it.

 I have a friend whose family has been in the printing business for over 50 years. Profits from their business were plowed back into buying over $20 million of equipment and hiring a staff of loyal workers.

 One of the things my friends does to grow his business is to give away high quality business cards (3,000 of them) to potential new customers. Yeah, that’s what I said 100% FREE, no strings attached, just for the “good will” it earns him.

 The course of our society, in my opinion, rest with the response of those people who got the free business cards. If they run away and hide like a church mouse with stolen cheese never inclined to give my friend a penny, then we are all doomed.

 My business, your business, the $20 million of printing equipment needs real money to grease its gears.

 How do you respond to free? Graciously, thankfully (will you do business with them?) or do you grab the loot and split?

 When the marketplace considers a person who creates real goodwill as a sheep to be sheered, it just might be “game over” for all of us.

 We really don’t live in a free world and none of our businesses can operate as a free enterprise can they?

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Is the Internet a TRAITOR in your life?

The internet has long been touted the savior for business, relationships and education and has been heralded as the digital ambassador of World peace. It’s been given more credit for happiness than chocolate or the gum drop. But can you see the “dark side” of the internet? The “dark side” has nothing to do with cyber predators, identity theft or Big Brother.

What the internet is Good at …and Bad at

Internet Good… The internet is the ultimate library of information which can be utilized by nearly everyone for little or no money.

Internet Bad… If you are a supplier of expertise (who isn’t?) the “free” Internet is now your greatest competitor. Nearly everyone is turning into an inept do-it-yourselfer.

Internet Good… The internet gives you more choices than ever before.

Internet Bad… The internet gives you too many choices. Have you ever been so obsessed with getting the best deal on a great product that you eventually fail to acquire it due to shopping exhaustion or an internet distraction. This happens to your prospective internet clients too.

Internet Good… it can be a learning tool.

Internet Bad… it gives you small bits of information and not a comprehensive course of study. Often times, it gives you enough information to be dangerous… i.e. false confidence and an addiction to being cheap.

Internet Good… you can meet a lot of people on the internet.

Internet Bad… Because you can meet a lot of people… everyone you meet is disposable.

Internet is Good… it’s free.

Internet is Bad… Unproductive internet use can steal from you your greatest treasure, your time. Do you expense your internet time at the same pay scale as your business wage?

Internet is Good… I can compete better in business by learning stuff on the internet.

Internet is Bad… Learning “stuff” is a waste of time. Doing stuff is what life is all about.

How to use the internet more wisely? Work with someone – who gets it (pay them) to help you take productive ACTION. Say NO to “wheel spinning”. GOAL: Effectively manage your internet life.

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11 things that piss off unemployed Americans

1. Bogus job fairs – Most job fairs don’t take resumes – they tell you to go home and visit their website (a waste of time, gas, and dry cleaning chemicals).

2. No feedback during the entire job submittal and interview process. This is standard operating procedure.  HR people think they are being nice, but if they cared they would simply say why it isn’t a good match. Being ignored and forgotten is the greatest insult…just ask Hollywood.

3. Competition: Head hunters, and Job boards (Monster, Career Builder) that don’t indicate the number of applicants for a position. Some online job positions get 3,000 to 5,000 applicants (scratch off lottery tickets have better odds of success).

4. Locked front doors of local businesses – Ever try to “drop by” your resume to a “friendly local employer” and realize later that you were tracked by the company’s security SWAT team as persona non grata in the parking lot. These are the same companies that preach their community involvement. Just as long as it doesn’t involve actually talking to a neighbor who is out of work.

5. Super specific job requirements – That virtually no one can possibility have. Example: “Looking for a professional with 10 years social media experience”. Social media has only been around for 5 years.

6. – That virtually no one can possibility have. Example: “Looking for a professional with 10 years social media experience”. Social media has only been around for 5 years.

6. Job postings that don’t indicate compensation. How can anyone have a legitimate interest in any position when compensation is a “cat and mouse” game?

7. Credit checks and deep background investigations– Geez, we are not looking for a loan from our employer and most of my employers and bosses 5 to 10 years ago are out of business or unemployed too.

8. Gotcha interview questions designed to put you on the defensive. Like…”What is your biggest weakness”? My reply is to say I don’t fully understand the question and then ask if the interviewer to share their biggest weakness as an example. Then state the good news “that I don’t have severe weaknesses like you” and that the company should be relieved.

9. Resume “experts” and stupid job hunting tips. Tips and techniques on how to beg, grovel and accept abuse.

10. Job application and resume submittal portals that suck. Talleo job application websites mangle more resumes and waste more time than many jobs are worth.

11. Guilt: The suggestion that accepting unemployment insurance makes you a deadbeat. We all “paid into” the system for years… It’s like having your house burn to the ground and being shamed into not calling the insurance company.

Feedback and additions to the list are welcome…

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The economic issue that NO ONE is talking about…

America cannot win in a “free trade” world economy.

I attended the presidential debate last night and walked away very disappointed… here’s why…

  • No U.S. worker can compete against 25 cent an hour slave wages.
  • U.S. corporations are happy to “sell out” U.S. workers for a few pennies a share in earnings.
  • U.S. corporations are the richest source of political campaign contributions.(they are the 4th branch of the U.S government).
  • Large companies have not created any new jobs in the U.S. in the last 10 years. (they have created millions of jobs overseas)
  • Real income for U.S. men have not increased in the last 35 years. (the time period that lesser developed countries started exporting).
  • What did our founding fathers believe regarding trade and tariffs?
  • In 1792, trade tariffs financed 95% of the U.S. budget and the average trade tariff was 15.1%
  • In 2010, trade tariffs only finance 1.2% of the U.S. budget and the average trade tariff is approx. 1.3%
  • Even the greatest American companies like Apple employ just 50,000 workers in the United States yet employ over 1 million in manufacturing plants in Asia.
  • We cannot educate or innovate our way out of job losses. If there are no trade tariffs our wages will have to decline closer to lesser developed countries.

Who’s side is the U.S. political leadership on?

Where am I wrong? Let the real debate begin….

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